Merry Christmas, y’all! I hope all your gifting wishes came/are coming true, and that if you don’t celebrate Christmas, you’re having some extra tasty Chinese food.
As for me, 2012 will definitely go down as the year I fell in love with Christmas music. I don’t know what took me so long — my parents were crazy about it when I was growing up, so I should have been on the bandwagon from the start. Whatever. I’m on board now, and I thought I’d post quickly about the 5 records in my bourgeoning collection I’m most excited to be playing today.
The Border Brass — Tijuana Christmas
What is it about Christmas classics voiced by trumpets that makes my heart do a little hat dance? It is the meteorological mashup of mittens and sombreros? Is it the idea of adding upbeat instrumentation to already joyful standards? Is it the look on the guy’s face on the cover? Yes, yes and yes. It’s all of those things, and I’m so glad that Tijuana Christmas made its way to YHT Headquarters as part of a generous, crate-sized donation from a bandmate’s parents.
The Border Brass — “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” [Amazon]
Kenny Rogers — Christmas
Just look at that album cover! It looks like he’s trying to seduce me and Christmas into a three-way! Sometimes a bottle of champagne is just a bottle of champagne… but this does not appear to be one of those times. Add to the cover the fact that there’s a song on the album called “Sweet Little Jesus Boy” — I know it dates back to the 1930’s, but I can’t help thinking of this scene from Talladega Nights when I hear that title — and you have the recipe for some high-octane holiday fun.
Kenny Rogers — “Sweet Little Jesus Boy” [Amazon]
Various Artists — Rhythm & Blues Christmas
As a loyal congregant of the Church of Home Alone, I rank Clyde McPhatter & The Drifters’ version of “White Christmas” among the most quintessential holiday recordings, like Nathan’s is to hot dogs or Barbie is to poor self-esteem.
Clyde McPhatter & The Drifters — “White Christmas” [Spotify/iTunes]
John Prine — Sweet Revenge
OK, so Sweet Revenge isn’t actually a Christmas album. Fair point. But its A-side is home to “Christmas In Prison,” a sweetly somber tune about being separated from the one you love — one of the genre’s most cherished tropes. Its second verse also contains one of my favorite descriptions of love in the history of recorded music:
She reminds me of a chess game with someone I admire
Or a picnic in the rain after a prairie fire
Her heart is as big as this whole goddamn jail
And she’s sweeter than saccharine at a drug store sale
John Prine — “Christmas in Prison” [Spotify/iTunes]
Alexandre Desplat — Moonrise Kingdom Original Score
OK, so this isn’t Christmas music either. But just listen to the track below — doesn’t it make you think of reindeer landing on rooftops and nativity scenes and Home Alone and whatnot? If not, that’s cool. Just do me a favor and see Moonrise Kingdom anyway. It has nothing to do with Christmas, but it’s a fantastic movie.
Alexandre Desplat — The Heroic Weather-Conditions of the Universe, Part 1: A Veiled Mist [Spotify/iTunes]
Back tomorrow with more 2012 retrospective fun!
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