Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Songs of the Season

I have a terrible, wholly nostalgic weakness for Christmas music.

Some of my fondest memories of elementary school are of singing carols in the gym after lunch during the last week of classes. (Also of the annual Christmas concert, but that's an entirely different strand of memory.) I grew up with Christmas music at home, of course, and I remember learning to play various songs on piano and violin, hearing the Band Aid single for the first time in 1984, and listening to radio and mall music at my various undergrad jobs — all neurally tied to potent emotions in themselves.

Add to that the fact that the melodies of some Christmas songs are very beautiful in themselves, particularly with the lush instrumentation that is common to seasonal interpretations. I am sometimes a sucker for sentimentality.

Close to a decade ago, I began collecting Christmas music. It's become somewhat comical at this point, as I have amassed nearly a thousand Christmas-themed songs.

The list that follows has endured for almost a decade. It has grown and contracted over that time as I've discovered new tracks and artists and grown tired of others, but the core has remained stable. Little did B know until this year, when our living proximity seems to have revealed all my strangest habits, but around the third week of November I start listening to selected songs from this playlist (interspersed with everything else I listen to, of course). By the second week of December I'm listening to most of it, and by the week before Christmas, I'm playing it in full, along with many other Christmas selections. (Some of these songs are really not appropriate until Christmas Eve, or a day or two before, in my imagination — and some of them can clearly hang on until at least December 27.)

And so: My Xmas Pop playlist. Every song embroidered with memory.

• Vince Guaraldi Trio, "Christmas Time Is Here"
• Rosanne Cash, "River"
• U2, "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"
• Band Aid, "Do They Know It's Christmas?"
• Casey Stratton "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" ("Like a Prayer" mashup)
• Boney M, "Mary's Boy Child/Oh My Lord" (long version)
• The Pogues, "Fairytale of New York"
• John Lennon, "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)"
• Johnny Reid, "Waiting for Christmas to Come"
• Kate Bush, "Home for Christmas"
• Lawrence Gowan, "Ring the Bell for Christmas"
• Lenka, "All My Bells Are Ringing"
• Pink Martini, "Shchedryk (Ukrainian Bell Carol)"
• Paul McCartney, "Wonderful Christmastime"
• Billy Squier, "Christmas Is the Time to Say 'I Love You'"
• Chris De Burgh, "A Spaceman Came Travelling"
• Kate Bush, "December Will Be Magic Again"
• Sufjan Stevens, "Once in Royal David's City"
• Sarah McLachlan, "Silent Night"
• Sarah Slean, "What Child Is This?"
• Sugarland, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel"
• The Kinks, "Father Christmas"
• The Pretenders, "2000 Miles"
• Jane Siberry, "All Through the Night"
• Annie Villeneuve, "Minuit, chr√©tiens"
• Cat Power, "Merry Little Christmas"
• Prince, "Another Lonely Christmas"
• Murray McLauchlan, "Let the Good Guys Win"
• ABBA, "Happy New Year"
• Straight No Chaser, "Auld Lang Syne"

By the way, and not unrelated to my subject here, this year Sleeping at Last's Christmas song is "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," which would definitely make this list if U2 were not already on it.

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