The Christmas Shuffle
Not Wednesday, sorry! Lately it seems I'm either a day behind or a day ahead of myself at every turn. Perhaps it's best that I waited until today for this, though -- so you can hold this seasonal collection of tunes in your head all the way through Christmas day.
1. Postcard From London / Ray Davies with Chrissie Hynde
From The Kinks Choral Collection (2009)
Don't worry -- Ray and Chrissie were never in the same room when they recorded this "duet." Nevertheless, it was a brilliant move to have his ex add her vocals to this poignant number. Ray scores an emotional trifecta, wrapping three of his favorite themes -- Christmas, London, and long-lost love -- in one song.
2. I Told Santa Claus / Fats Domino
From Christmas Is A Special Day (1993)
Mmm, this laidback boogie-woogie is one of my favorite Christmas classics. Fats has one request for the Man In Red -- he wants his baby to marry him. Yessiree -- "We'll have a boy for you / And a ten-pound girl for me," he croons happily. Was life ever this simple? Listening to Fats, you believe it could be.
3. "We Call It Christmas" / Keb' Mo'
From Christmas Calling (2003 various artists compilation)
I love it when Keb' gets his social conscience going, putting the blues on a back burner and reaching into his gospel/protest folk bag. Just listen to him testify about the power of the holiday season -- "It's bringing out the very best in all of us." Amen, brother!
4. "Merry Christmas Baby" / The Beach Boys
From Christmas With the Beach Boys(1991 re-issue)
Man, did the Wilson brothers love holiday numbers -- maybe it's that seasonal Southern California yearning for snowy climes. I've got their whole Christmas album in my iTunes, and I can never get enough of it. Here Mike Love pleading with his ex to make up in time for Christmas -- like "Help Me Rhonda" with a wreath and spray-on snow.
5. "Merry Christmas, Baby" / Charles Brown and Bonnie Raitt
From A Very Special Christmas (2003 various artists compilation)
An entirely different song, Charles Brown's stellar contribution to the contemporary Christmas catalog. Could this song be any sexier? Here's my original post...
6. "Christmas for Cowboys" / Jars of Clay
From Maybe This Christmas Tree (2003 various artists compilation)
A John Denver song, I think, but I love the way Jars of Clay earnestly lope their way through it. These guys pretty much own the Christian alt-country niche as far as I'm concerned, and they never let it go corny.
7. "Valley Winter Song" / Fountains of Wayne
From Welcome Interstate Managers (2005)
Wouldn't you know that FoW -- our great troubadors of suburban pop culture -- would have a Christmas song or two up their sleeves.? Okay, technically not a Christmas song (for that, you'd have to go to their "I Want An Alien For Christmas", from Out-Of-State Plates), but this sweet little song shimmers like a fresh snowfall.
8. "Get Behind Me, Santa" / Sufjan Stevens
From Songs For Christmas (2005)
No surprise that the defiantly unconventional Sufjan would release a five-disc Christmas album, mostly featuring sincere arrangements of traditional carols. But then there's this insanely fun original tune, subject of my very first Christmas song blog.
9. "Sock It To Me Santa" / Marshall Crenshaw
From A Home for the Holidays (1997 various artists compilation)
Add Marshall to that list of artists who really love Christmas novelty tunes -- I've got several MC numbers on my playlist, courtesy of a bootleg disc of Crenshaw rarities. Here he has some rockabilly fun with a Bob Seger tune, featuring the inimitable James Brown reference,"Christmas ain't gonna be a drag / Santa's got a brand new bag!" Take my word for it, Marshall's version knocks Seger's down cold.
10. "Zat You, Santa Claus?" / Buster Poindexter and His Banshees of Blues
From How Cool is Christmas (2006 various artists compilation)
Gotta love Buster's infectiously fun take on the old Louis Armstrong classic. Buster (aka David Johansen, aka Sri Rama Lama Ding Dong) has no shame about being theatrical, which is exactly what this jump-jive number craves. Merry Christmas, Buster!