Holiday Music Countdown: Number 9, hope there’s oil under your rose vine

It’s rather a jolt, after a weekend of holiday parties and meeting up with family and friends, to find oneself back at work on a Monday — and to realize that there’s still more than a week to go until Christmas. Even so, the month rushes on, and the countdown of my favorite holiday songs ticks down to another lovely tune. (Find previous holiday countdown posts here.)

9. The Merriest (June Christy)

I will not be surprised if you don’t know our number nine song, "The Merriest." Almost no one seems to know it. At least, almost no one seems to have recorded it — except for the singer who introduced it to the world, June Christy.

This Time of Year is a winter concept album by June Christy, released in 1961. The tracks on it were all new — which was not typical for albums of that time, when standards were … well, standard. Ms. Christy wanted to counter the trend of every Christmas album including the same old songs. Most of the tunes on this album are slower, almost ballads, and in keeping with her cool singing style. "The Merriest," though, is more like the tunes for which she first became known: Upbeat, with complicated melodies and sophisticated rhythms.

Few people seem to tackle this song. I will guess it’s because this is a hard song to perform. Either that, or everyone is fully satisfied that June Christy’s version is one for the ages.

(Background info on This Time of Year from