Best Christmas songs of all time.

Sequel to my last post. My friend Ann asked if there would be a “best-of” post, focusing on “sad/lonely/ambivalent Christmas songs”. I replied that requires two separate posts. These, however, are my favorite songs of the season with a few clips sprinkled in from YouTube.

“Still, Still, Still”, recorded by many but this is Mannheim Steamroller’s version. My high school’s choir would sing this every Christmas and it gave me chills every single time.

“Coventry Carol (Bye Bye Thou Little Tiny Child)”, recorded by dozens of artists over the years, but the version by The Kingston Trio is the one I grew up with.

“The Only Present I Want This Year” by Eytan Mirsky. Eytan is a Facebook friend who’s generously furnished me many songs for radio play. This one is always popular.

“Riu Riu Chiu” by The Monkees.  A Spanish song from the Renaissance that tells how Mary and the baby Jesus was protected from harm on Christmas night.

“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid. Yeah, it got done to death but this was the original and it still cheers me up.

“The Christmas Waltz”,  recorded by many but Frank Sinatra owns it.

“Come And I Will Sing You” by Great Big Sea. A traditional Newfoundland song that shares themes and imagery with many other folk-based songs including “The Twelve Days Of Christmas.” Bob Hallett of GBS observes that some version of this song exists in almost every western culture.

“Frosty The Snowman” by Dr. John and Leon Redbone. I never ever liked this song till I heard this version. Plus I can sing like both of them. Runner up: the Ronettes’ “Wall Of Sound” version.

“Driving Home For Christmas” by Chris Rea. I can relate to this one.

“The Twelve Days Of Christmas” by Straight No Chaser.  “I have a little dreidel, I made it out of clay….” Makes me laugh every time.

“In The Bleak Midwinter”, also recorded by dozens of acts but  James Taylor’s version is best.

“Step Into Christmas” by Elton John. Makes me happy every time I hear it.

“Little Saint Nick” by the Beach Boys. “Run Rudolph Run” by Chuck Berry, later by Bryan Adams. “Sleigh Ride” by The Ventures, later by The Spongetones. Same as “Step Into Christmas” – happy whenever I hear these.

“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings” by Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLaughlin. “God Rest Ye…” is my favorite traditional Christmas song.

“Christmas Song” by Owl City (an Owatonna musician/touring band).

“Christmas Is”,  recorded by many but  the best one is by Lou Rawls. “Good cheer, good cheer!” And his fadeout at the end: “I hope you get a whole lot of.. nice presents.. I hope Santa socks it to you..”

“I Believe In Father Christmas” by Greg Lake. Especially cool for the inclusion of  “Lieutenant Kijé’s Suite” by Prokofiev.

“Mary’s Boy Child” by Harry Belafonte. Another one from my childhood.

“Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth” by Bing Crosby and David Bowie. Recorded as part of Bing’s last Christmas TV special. Raised lots of eyebrows at the time but it’s aged very well. I get the feeling that Bing and Bowie admired each other’s talent.

“The Holly and The Ivy”, George Winston’s version. Good times, good times. Or in the memorable words of Brother Lou: good cheer, good cheer.

11 Comments on “Best Christmas songs of all time.”

  1. Ann McK. says:

    “Little Drummer Boy” is possibly my most hated Christmas song. But there is a lot of competition for that title.

  2. Took me a while to appreciate that version of LDB….forgive me, I was young and underexposed to alternative (read: non-Gospelish) Christmas music.

    • scottmac56 says:

      Heck, there wasn’t any such thing as alternative music Christmas or otherwise until I was in college. Christmas songs at my home were The Kingston Trio, Harry Belafonte, and John Denver with The Muppets.

  3. Randall Mikkelsen says:

    New last year, this made it quickly to my best-of list: Tracey Thorne, “Joy”

  4. Randall Mikkelsen says:

    And there is this, which I had the good fortune to see debuted live at the “Very Special Christmas” performance:
    Run DMC – Christmas in Hollis –

    The 1987 Very Special Christmas CD also has a powerful Eric Clapton-Tracy Chapman duet on “Gimme One Reason”–VUBH0s , which is not exactly a Christmas carol. It has been getting a lot of play the last few years on 92.5 The River in Boston.

    • I have the CD release of the original “Very Special Christmas” disc. I found it interesting that they swapped out Bon Jovi songs for the CD vs. vinyl/cassette release:: “I Wish Every Day Could Be Like Christmas” replaced “Back Door Santa.” Would have loved to be a fly on the wall for THAT boardroom discussion.

  5. Merry Christmas From The Family makes me smile. Just heard it for the first time.

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