Friday, December 11, 2009
meet my christmas album: superstar christmas
I bought this album when I was in college sometime, and I'm pretty sure it's the first Christmas music that I personally owned. I spent a sizable chunk of time in the Searcy Wal-Mart making this monumental purchase. I ultimately chose a compilation of artists rather than a cd by a single artist. When you only own one Christmas album, variety is a nice thing. I remember specifically wanting something that had "O Holy Night," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," and "I'll Be Home for Christmas," which were particular favorites of mine at the time--pretty much still are. Buying the cd was still somewhat of a gamble for me because there were several songs I'd never heard before, most of which were obviously not traditional Christmas songs. And I'm picky about things like that. In retrospect, the cd must have been really cheap.
Here's a rundown on how that gamble paid off:
1. "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" John Lennon & Yoko Ono: I'm pretty sure I'd never heard this song prior to owning this cd, but it was an immediate hit with me. Mac put this on his top ten list the other day, and I think, if I ever get around to making my own top ten, this one will probably earn a spot. Little children sing on it, but not in that too wholesome, manipulative way. And I just love it. The end.
2. "O Holy Night" Mariah Carey: Love the song, hate the over-singing and ballpark-organ-style accompaniment.
3. "Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow" Frank Sinatra: I'm a fan of this song. We used to play it in band. I like to sing the wrongs words to it. It's not a Christmas song, but I don't mind that. I don't have a strong connection to Sinatra, but I do love to listen to him sing Christmas music. So, winner.
4. "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" Michael Bolton: What better proof do you need that this album is a product of the mid-90s? Here's a dirty, little confession: my moma liked Michael Bolton during my formative years, so I like him too. And this is no Springsteen, but it has that Bolton wail, and perhaps I should have mentioned that I am not a music snob before, but now you know.
5. "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)" Celine Dion: She's no Nat King Cole, but it's not too bad. As I was listening to it yesterday, it started this whole dialogue in my head about preferring male singers to female ones. Maybe I'll delve into that another time.
6. "Merry Christmas, Baby" Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band: I guess they couldn't have him singing "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," since they were going to include this one, another song I didn't know before owning this cd. But it's Springsteen, for crying out loud. This song makes me happy.
7. "Early Christmas Morning" Cyndi Lauper: So I don't think it's a secret by now that I'm all about some nostalgia. That Elvis post yesterday reeked of sentimentality, and most of my Christmas music love is wrapped up in traditional songs and childhood memories and, occasionally, the birth of Jesus. This song, like #1 & #6 and a few others we'll get to later, has no sentimental grounding in my past--they don't call to mind special family moments. But I have owned this cd for something like ten years now, so even the least Christmas-y of these Christmas songs is a part of my personal Christmas tradition. And now that we're clear on that, I love this song too.
8. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" Luther Vandross: Anyone remember the selling points for this cd? It contained all 3 songs that were deal-breakers for me at the time. I've already discussed that this cd's offering of "O Holy Night" is disappointing. Wouldn't there be a nice bit of irony in play if all the songs I wanted to enjoy on this cd were disappointing? Two for two, so far, I'm afraid. It's just okay for me, dog.
9. "Silent Night" Boyz II Men: This has nothing to do with Boyz II Men, who I always sort of liked, but I'll skip this song in a heartbeat when I listen to this cd. Silent Night is just such an over-played, boring song. The only way I ever like it is when we sing it at church with all the verses. Plus they sing it really slow--maybe if they'd Motownphilly-ed it up, I'd like it more.
10. "Winter Wonderland" Tony Bennett: Not a Christmas song, not really a Tony Bennett girl. And I love it. Wait, maybe this is the one I sing the wrong words too, instead of "Let it Snow." I can't be bothered to figure that out right now. I get them confused. But I love them.
11. "You Make It Feel Like Christmas" Neil Diamond: Neil Diamond is Jewish, not that there's anything wrong with that. Makes me giggle when I listen to him sing a Christmas song though. See the earlier dissertation about song #7, as it applies here too.
12. "I'll Be Home for Christmas" Amy Grant: I'm pretty sure I got this cd at about the time that everyone, including my grandmother, was so mad at Amy Grant for leaving her husband for Vince Gill. That whole situation might have tainted this song a bit for me, but ultimately, it's a pretty decent version. So no buyers' remorse for me, at least this song was what I wanted it to be.
13. "White Christmas" Placido Domingo: If I have a regret about this cd, it's right here. Worse than "Silent Night," is this operatic version of I song that I actually love. Youthful mistakes . . . we've all been there. I usually skip this one too.
14. "What If Jesus Comes Back Like That?" Collin Raye: Calling this a Christmas song is a stretch, and it's almost too preachy for me, but then I love it anyway. I love Collin Raye, and I love the 2nd verse about the baby on crack. It makes me almost cry.
15. "Christmas Through Your Eyes" Gloria Estefan: Well, it's no "Turn the Beat Around," and the Miami Sound Machine doesn't liven it up, but I like this one too.
16. "The Lord's Prayer" Barbra Streisand: Despite all the things that should make me hate this song, it's pretty, and I like it--though what business it has being on my Christmas cd, I'll never understand.
Stay tuned for at least six more installments of Meet My Christmas Album as well as bonus stories about Christmas piano lessons (I once had to play "Silent Night" in a piano Christmas recital, where I almost died of extreme cold and stagefright).
. . . or just come back after Christmas, in hopes that I'll stop talking about cds that I own and talk about something interest--or lose interest and stop talking altogether. Now there's an item for the wish lists.