With the holidays coming up, I'm slowly making my way into some holiday shopping. Nevermind the long lines, sparse parking and crabby customers, it's the Christmas music that can be annoying the most. I can tolerate hearing the classics to a certain degree (Phil Spector's Christmas album still rules, Big Crosby's stuff is still good, U2's version of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" is still great, the Pogues' "Fairytale of New York" tears me up inside and so on), but a number of songs are played to overkill. Doesn't matter where you are; you can't escape these songs. So in the last five years, I've decided to make my own Christmas mixes from various sources. These are songs that I have yet to be tired of.
I still listen to the Vandals' Oi to the World once a holiday season. Nothing like songs titled "A Gun for Christmas," "My First Christmas as a Woman" and "Hang Myself from the Tree" to liven the mood. Yes, this is dark and cynical stuff, but very funny and tuneful at the same time.
Another staple is Vince Guaraldi's score to A Charlie Brown Christmas. Not only do I love the cartoon itself, but the score is what makes it for me. It's loose poppy jazz played in a really "live" way. As a fan of the drums and piano especially, there's something so timeless about this music.
A few years ago, local label Idol Records released Electric Ornaments. Featuring some of the best local bands at the time, a number of the songs hold up. While there are some standards that get a standard walk-through, original tracks by Centro-matic, Valve and Clumsy are pretty stunning (at least in my mind). Plus, Chomsky's rendition of "Christmas Time Is Here" and Pinkston's rendition of the Kinks' "Father Christmas" are prime tracks also.
Lastly, I have to give props to my blogging friend Jeff of Jefitoblog. His 2005 Holiday Mixtape introduced me to a number of wonderful tracks, including George Winston's "Joy." His 2006 Holiday Mixtape recently came online and there are a number of stellar tracks here too. From Peggy Lee to Aretha Franklin to Twisted Sister to the dB's, you're not going to hear these songs as you stand in line behind a person having a hissy fit about Playstation 3's availability.
So what songs get you through the holidays?