For the last few years, right after Thanksgiving, our local American radio station becomes a 24-hour Christmas song fest. Even Sirius Radio has two stations playing your favorite Santa Claus songs and each year I say the same thing – I’ll only listen to it a little bit. You know you can’t do that. It’s like eating a Lays potato chip. You can’t eat just one!
Besides, as you’re driving along and you’re passing houses with twinkling Christmas lights adorning the family abode, or you see a car drive by and they have those antlers sticking out of the back windows, your hand starts flicking on that Christmas station more and more. Then you pass that one house in the neighborhood where they have a multitude of those blow up Christmas ornaments, like the giant Nutcracker, the snow globe with a spinning airplane in it, or Mickey Mouse with a Santa hat on. It looks like Father Christmas threw up on their lawn! Oh, well, ‘tis the season.
As we get closer to Christmas I realize that I’m listening to the Christmas station every time I get into the car, no matter what time and where I’m going. I even have it on at the office. I’m singing Feliz Navidad like it’s the first time I heard it and I can’t speak Spanish, but the guy in the next car over at the red light is looking at me and he starts singing too because he’s also listening to the Christmas station! I’ve heard so many versions of Jingle Bells I’m ready to choke James Pierpont, the guy that wrote the song in 1857! What’s a bob-tail and why does it have bells on it? Who’s this Miss Fannie Bright?
So I am a Christmas song junkie. But, before you judge me, I’m sure you are one too. After listening to Christmas music from the day after Thanksgiving to the day after Christmas, I have now developed my 20 best Christmas songs and why. Here they are:
- White Christmas (Bing Crosby). Something about a Christmas song written by a Jewish fellow named Berlin during World War II. You gotta love it. Besides, it’s Bing and sometime during our lives we all decorated a Christmas tree while that song played.
- Jingle Bells (Natalie Cole). Did you ever listen to this arrangement? I mean, really listen to it? Please do, especially if you’re a musician or really enjoy big band music. It’s simply great.
- The Christmas Song (Nat King Cole). When Natalie’s dad sings the first words, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” he just oozes Christmas and makes you want to open a bottle of wine (or a good Scotch) and sit in front of a roaring fire… unless you live in Florida, then it’s too hot so it’s a cold beer and watching the waves roll in and out.
- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (The Carpenters). Karen Carpenter probably has the most enchanting, unique, and pleasing voice… ever, and it shines in this song.
- It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Andy Williams). This is the song that all those Christmas stations start off with. It’s the hap, hap happiest season of all, and doesn’t this song make you feel it? A lot of people my age – over that 50 hump, remember Andy Williams and all of the Christmas specials he had… featuring little Donny Osmond and the Osmond Family.
- Dominick The Christmas Donkey (Lou Monte). I know, you’re laughing, but I bet your starting to sing it right now? Hee Haw, Hee Haw Hee Haw… Hey Koumbare. See, you’re smiling and that’s what makes this song good.
- Please Come Home For Christmas (Eagles). Haven’t most people sometime in their life found themselves relating to this song? It’s a sad Christmas song but a great one to sing along with and pulls at your heartstrings. Aaron Neville has a good version too.
- Blue Christmas (Elvis Presley). This was one of Elvis’ most favorite Christmas song… he said it at his 1968 concert. Another sad Christmas song but Elvis makes you feel all warm and fuzzy with his velvet voice.
- Merry Christmas Baby (Bruce Springsteen). He’s the Boss! This is a true blues style Christmas song and he nails it. I also like his version of Santa Claus is Comin to Town, but this one makes you want to start dancing or, for me, what passes for dancing. My brother Ted, and all his Springsteen minions would put this at 1.
- All I Want For Christmas Is You (Mariah Carey). It’s a happy song. What else can I say. I heard a version where they isolated her vocals on a live performance of this song… thank god for auto tune, but this version is perky.
- Feliz Navidad (Jose Feliciano). This is the only Spanish I remember from my Spanish classes in high school. Feliz Navidad everyone!
- Mele Kalikimaka (Bing Crosby). Really… a bright Hawaiian Christmas day? Poor Hawaiians… no snow to shovel. Since I didn’t take Hawaiian in high school, I rely on good old Bing to teach me Hawaiian. Funny thing is that when you ask people about this song, they all know the words! Mele Kalikimaka everyone!
- Christmas Vacation Theme Song (Mavis Staples). Squirrel!!!! Nothing further need be said.
- Run Run Rudolph (Chuck Berry). Every generation needed to take a Christmas song and make it that generation’s style. Chuck did it here and so did the Beach Boys with Little St. Nick.
- I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (Jackson Five with Michael Jackson). You can hear a young and innocent Michael Jackson singing away.
- Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (Dean Martin). Old Dino’s voice singing this classic song just makes you smile, especially when he uses his German accent, or when he sings the line, Rudy the Red Big Reindeer, you just imagine him on a piano with a glass a scotch in his hand with coolness pouring out.
- Carol of the Bells (Trans-Siberian Orchestra). One of the greatest instrumental Christmas songs of all time.
- Last Christmas (Wham). I truly hate this song but I needed to add an 80s song in there for you girls that wore that big hair with enough Aqua Net to freeze your hair for centuries and huge shoulder pads that would make any football player salivate for, and you guys that all wanted to look like Don Johnson in Miami Vice.
- Santa Baby! (Eartha Kitt). If Christmas can be sexy, it’s because of this song. Kitt’s sultry, carefree voice makes any guy ready to buy everything on her Christmas list. Madonna recorded this song too, and we have to give her honorable mention on it, but Kitt’s version is the best.
- Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer (Elmo and Patsy). This is such a bad song it’s good. Should we open up her gifts or take them back… take them back! They don’t write lyrics like that anymore – thank God.
Well there you have it folks. My 2015 list of the 20 best Christmas songs. Now I know many of you may have other favorites on your list, but that’s what’s great about Christmas songs… there are so many of them.
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