There's a narrow range of Xmas music that I enjoy. It's not because I'm snobby and elitist, necessarily, more just because I'm fussy and provincial. But there IS Xmas music that I like, and like a lot. I've made a point of curating a relatively sizable collection, since everyone in my life loves Xmas music, from my mom when I was a kid to my wife and daughters now, and even including our very own VampireNomad with whom I spent a couple of Xmases. Xmaser! Maybe today's Laserium should be called X-maserium! X-mays are a thing, right? They are now.
The stuff that is not for me: Xmas novelty songs like 'Gramma Got Run Over by a Reindeer' or whatever. The old classics (which are fantastic, just not for me) like Bing Crosby and the like. Showtunes, Glee, country Christmassy stuff. Even stuff I should like like the Twisted Sister Xmas album.
The stuff I like:
My favorite Xmas album of all time is Holly Cole's 'Baby It's Cold Outside'. It's amazing. Her sultry, husky voice and rich, amazing arrangements are a perfect combination. There's lots of Xmas cheer on here but what I really love are some of the heavier songs. As a metalhead, brooding, somber music lifts up my soul and makes my heart happy. So songs like 'If We Make It Through December' and especially the dirgish 'What Is This Lovely Fragrance' warm up the coldest winter nights.
Sarah McLachlan also has a beautiful Xmas album, 'Wintersong'. Of course she does! She's Sarah McLachlan. My favorite songs are all of them but if I had to choose I would say 'River', 'Song For A Winter's Night' and 'In The Bleak Mid-Winter'. She also has the best version ever of 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen' together with the Barenaked Ladies, on BNL's Xmas album, 'Barenaked For The Holidays'.
One more Canadian for the list, a guy named Steve Bell. He might be fairly obscure as he is a christian artist, but he's won a few Junos (sort of the Canadian Grammies) and I think he's great. He's got a Xmas album called 'The Feast of Seasons' which has some standout tracks. I'd recommend the guitar-only medley of 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/Angels We Have Heard on High/Silent Night', and both versions of 'The Coventry Carol', but especially the reprise, and 'Come Thou Long Expected Jesus'.
This next guy makes the list because of Corinne, who could tell you much more about him than I could. He's not exactly an unknown- Harry Connick, Jr. He released his second Xmas album the year she and I were living together so I got to hear it and discovered I really enjoyed it. The song 'The Happy Elf' makes me especially happy. And from his first Xmas album, 'When My Heart Finds Christmas', there's '(It Must've Been Ol') Santa Claus'.
That same Christmas, 2003, was kind of a dark one. Some friends were over at the Woodsy Crypt when I got a phone call that my uncle had died under tragic circumstances. I mean it's always tragic when someone dies but . . . yeah. It was bad. My parents were in Mexico so it was up to me to take care of my widowed Grandma, collecting her in her town and bringing her to Calgary where we dealt with the remains and the arrangements and all that. Corinne and Craig and Deb were there and they made it better. I'd mentioned that I was really into The Pretenders' '2000 Miles', and Deb performed that song for me in church and damned if I'm not tearing up as I type this now, 11 years later.
Merry Christmas! Don't worry, we'll have a post on Christmas Day but we understand if you're a little too busy to read it. And hey if you know of a Xmas song I might enjoy, feel free to leave a comment.
Happy ho ho ho to you!
- Nathan Waddell