Well, nobody’s perfect.
1.) “Christmastime is Here,” Vince Guaraldi Trio (A Charlie Brown Christmas). How could you go wrong with Charlie Brown? The whole Christmas album is classic.
2.) “Old City Bar,” Trans Siberian Orchestra (Christmas Eve and Other Stories). “If we could some how make this Christmas thing last by helping a neighbor, even a stranger…” A soulful, sparse song that brings the meaning of Christmas home.
3.“Carol of the Bells,” Straight No Chaser (Holiday Spirits). A wonderful a capella rendition of a timeless classic.
4. “Winter Wonderland,” Chris Botti (December). As a former trumpet player, I felt compelled to include this. Truth be told, I like it mostly for its bass line.
5. “When the Bells Start Ringing (feat. The Head and the Heart),” My Morning Jacket (iTunes Session). A beautiful ode to a Blue Ridge Christmas.
6. “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” Robin Trower (Merry Axemas Vol. II). An expansive, sonically rich version of a sweet Christmas staple. This version turns moody and brooding, yet retains the songs reverence.
7. “Winter Swell Blues,” Paula Fuga (This Warm December). If one had grown up and experienced the holiday season in Hawaii…
8. “Toy Jackpot,” Professor Break Speed / Blackalicious (Toy Jackpot). “Is it time yet? Is it time, I can’t wait! Is it time?, I can’t wait!” A joyous rap that channels the mindset of a overanxious kid that can’t even comprehend all the stuff he is getting.
9. “Christmas Tears,” Eric Clapton (A Very Special Christmas – Live From Washington D.C.). A true-bluesy classic from ol’ Slow Hand. Take it home EC…
10.) “Jingle Bells,” Herb Alpert & the TIjuana Brass (Ultimate Christmas). I swear, every time I hear the opening of this song I think, “oh cool, a Beach Boys Christmas tune!” At any rate, Herb and the boys keep me hangin’ around. Who needs Brian Wilson? We got trumpets and xylophones!!
11.) “Make Time,” Money Mark (This Warm December). “Make time to give and time will make sure to give to you…” A sweet, bright song that celebrates the joys of slowing down and enjoying life and helping one another.
(no clip but you can get a taste here.)
12.) “Amazing Grace,” Jeff Beck (Merry Axemas Vol. I). A classic. Beck’s soulful, pleading rendition of this song is so emotional. Production includes backing vocals that sound like angels.
13) “I Believe in Father Christmas,” Emerson, Lake and Palmer (Original Single Version). “I wish you a hopeful Christmas. I wish you a brave New Year. All anguish, pain and sadness leave your road and let your heart be clear.” A beautiful prog rock track. So wounded, so conflicted. I love it!