This holiday season, – our second in pandemic times – there are fewer parties, fewer trips to the minimally stocked stores, fewer visitors, etc. But one thing that has not changed is that two of our local radio stations are playing nothing but holiday songs, and that certainly helps bring in some yuletide cheer.
When I listen to those stations, though, it’s a bit mind-numbing to realize how many artists have put their own spin on songs like “Jingle Bell Rock” or “The Christmas Song” (that’s the one that starts Chestnuts roasting on an open fire . . .). While I sometimes like new takes on the old classics, I realized that some songs just sort of seem to “belong” to certain artists. To my ear, Mariah Carey “owns” the song “All I Want for Christmas is You.” And John Lennon really needs to be the one singing “Happy Christmas (War is Over).” And “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” simply must be sung by its original artist, Thurl Ravenscroft with his deep gravelly voice.
My favorite Christmas song is “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy,” sung as a duet with Bing Crosby and David Bowie. It kind of needs to be them for me to enjoy it.
Each year, new artists arrive on the scene with new songs they hope will become holiday classics. Some will “own” that song forever, others will live to hear their creation adopted and maybe perfected by another artist. Either way, they will get their classic.
Speaking of classics, I still prefer Bing Crosby’s rendition of “White Christmas,” which first appeared in the movie, Holiday Inn. It debuted in 1942 in the middle of World War II. Maybe I prefer Bing because his rendition is the most popular Christmas song of all time, and maybe it’s because I remember some of my friends from that generation telling me how much comfort that single brought to them during the difficult war years.
Whether you prefer Nat King Cole or Mary J. Blige singing “The Christmas Song,” I hope your favorite holiday music takes you back to happy memories in your past, helps you stay grounded in the present, and moves you peacefully into a new year.
By Teresa R. Funke
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