On my mini-iPod right now, I have 344 holiday songs. Some are duplicates — every lounge-style holiday album seems to include Dean Martin’s version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” and if it doesn’t it should — but even so that means about 18 hours of tuneful holiday spirit.
I can pull up any of 12 different versions of “Jingle Bells” in an instant, and any of 10 versions of “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (eleven if you count Los Lobos’s “Rudolf the Manic Reindeer”).
I understand that many people don’t share my fondness for Christmas music, but honestly it takes up about all of my holiday spirit. All year I look forward to it: I make myself wait until the day after Thanksgiving to start playing it, and I stop playing it by New Year’s Day.
My favorites, in no order:
“Blue Xmas (To Whom It May Concern)” by Miles Davis (with lyrics and vocals by Bob Dorough of Schoolhouse Rock fame)
“Little Drummer Boy (Up the Khyber)” by the Hoodoo Gurus
“Jingle All the Way” by Lena Horne
“The Christmas Waltz” by Nancy Wilson
“Baby It’s Cold Outside” by either Brian Setzer and Ann-Margaret or Dean Martin and some babe
“Fairytale of New York” by the Pogues
“We Want to See Santa Do the Mambo” by Big John Greer
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Judy Garland (the most heart-breaking version)
“The Merriest” by June Christy
“I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” by Billie Holiday
“Shouldn’t Have Given Him a Gun for Christmas” by Wall of Voodoo
“Joy to the World” by Whitney Houston
“Song for a Winter’s Night” by Sarah McLachlan
“Deck Us All With Boston Charlie” by Lambert, Hendricks & Ross
“Step into Christmas” by Elton John
If I could have but one Christmas album, I’d take “Hipster’s Holiday” from Rhino Records. Jazzy, swinging holiday fun. Doesn’t matter how cold it is outside — when that CD is playing it’s hot in here.