Favorite Christmas songs change as you age, I think, just like childhood cookie choices and Christmas activities. And every year one or two are added to the standards list.
As a kid I could gorge on oatmeal cookies, Oreos, or even plain old sugar cookies, or ginger snaps. My favorite was chocolate oatmeal no bakes, which really are candy not cookies. Also a good bowel super charger. As my triglycerides float higher in later life, I have to pass on these sugar factories, fatty foods, salt, and useless white flour products. As I get older and wiser, I have to choose healthier foods… and songs.
The Christmas song book goes on forever with hymns and old standards that go back a hundred years. Some are sad and slow, and some are joyful. It takes a lot to wiggle into this musical encyclopedia. John Lennon’s So This is Christmas is sort of an anti-war Christmas tune.
So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear
By the end of the song he slips in the War is over line. Maybe that’s why I don’t get the Christmas spirit out of this song.It’s political.
When you think of traditional Christmas songs, Silent Night and The First Noel saturate the sad and slow market. Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Oh Holy Night are still home runs in my book, but I decided to research the most popular Christmas songs. After an exhausting 10 seconds I found a list of the top ten without any explanation of their metrics. I thought I’d share and seek your feedback as I offloaded mine.
The source is About Entertainment, if it matters to you. I can’t argue with their #1 The Christmas Song by Nat king Cole. One of my faves also.
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos
How many songs mention our Indigenous Arctic Natives? I challenge you to name one other song with Eskimo in it. So far, so good. Love that saturated silky smooth calf’s skin voice of Nat Cole. Soothing. I bought one of his records at the grocery store for 99 cents when I was a kid. Still have it.
#2 is a sad one from a sad time… World War II days. It’s Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, made famous by Judy Garland
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
From now on
Our troubles will be out of sight (my Lord)
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the Yuletide gay
From now on
Our troubles will be miles away
Note the focus on troubles. Sad as it is, this was a rewrite of the original because the movie producer of Meet Me in St. Louis thought it was too depressing. I appreciate the song, but I have a hard time endorsing it in the top ten. Tying Christmas to historical times or politics, well, misses the point, I think. Which brings me to #3, Lennon’s So This is Christmas. I’ve already addressed this above. The message of Christmas, the birth of a redeeming savior, ought to override the blues of the day, the wars and the human failures.
#4 I think should be #1. Oh Holy Night, a tough song to sing, is transforming when sung well on Christmas Eve. It’s the first one in this list that mentions Christ or Savior. I am biased toward the original reason, the pre-commercialization purpose of Christmas: to re-create and commemorate the original epic story, before it became Santatized. I have no problem with gifts and Santa and the familiar myths that have sprung up alongside the original story of a savior redeeming mankind. I just want the original to have its place at the center of history, minus reindeer and Santa and elves. The God of the Universe met humanity in the humblest of places. He did not fly in on a sleigh full of presents.
#5 is Springsteen’s version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town
. Okay, I like the Boss and it’s fun to rock the holidays. I like to hear this once per Christmas. That’s it.
#6 Baby Please Come Home For Christmas. Baby, please don’t. What the heck is this doing on the list? So wrong.
#7Jingle Bell Rock. Again, contemporary Yulishness. It belongs in the secular song book of early rock and roll. Not this high, folks. Not worthy.
#8 Little Drummer Boy. No, no, no. Parumpapumpum. No, no, no, no, get outta here son.
#9 Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. Get outta here. Kids, okay. Adults, no. Sing this at the kids’ table.
#10 White Christmas by Bing Crosby. Hard to dis. The man could croon. What if he and Nat Cole did a duet? Liquid cheesecake. Heroin addicts would stop to listen. Good juice.
So, everyone has their favorites. What are yours? Joy to the World, needs to be up near the top of my ten greatest. My buddy Eric loved this song and I loved him, so it’s a safe top three in my book. I’ve always been partial to The First Noel and Silent Night, so we’ve got a top four. I’ll throw down with Nat Cole’s Christmas Song to round out my top five.
Sure there are many others to debate, but that’s for you to do. I’ve already chiseled my choices in stone.
Have yourself a Merry Christmas, big, little, medium, secular, sacred, commercial or not. May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be white.