Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Best Christmas Songs of All-Time, December 6

There are now thousands of Christmas songs, and it's hard to sort through them.  Don't go through the hassle; we already did it for you.  Here are six more of The Best Christmas Songs of All-Time*:

"Away In A Manger"
by Anne Murray

This traditional Christmas favorite was first published with two verses in the Evangelical Lutheran Sunday School collection called Little Children's Book for Schools and Families in 1885, edited by James R. Murray (1841-1905).  The words were set to a tune called "St. Kilda", credited to J.E. Clark.

Murray's reverent treatment of the song makes it special.

"Here Comes Santa Claus"
by Gene Autry

This has become a traditional Christmas favorite and although others have recorded it, Autry's version is by far the best.  He wrote it along with Oakley Haldeman after riding his horse in the 1946 Santa Claus Lane Parade in Los Angeles in which crowds of spectators shouted "Here comes Santa Claus".  

Johnny Bond first recorded the song using ice cubes to mimic the sound of sleigh bells.  When Autry recorded the song in 1947, he used real sleigh bells and released the song on Columbia Records, hitting #9.  Autry included the song in his movie The Cowboy and the Indians in 1949 and the song was also featured in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation in 1989.

Autry's reference to Santa Claus as "Santie Claus" is a special touch that only adds to its appeal.

"Perhaps Love"
by John Denver & Placido Domingo

This entry is unique in that it isn't a Christmas song per se but its lyrics are so relevant that it is now associated with Christmas.  Written in 1981 for his wife as the couple was nearing a divorce, the song hit #22 on the Adult Contemporary chart at the time and was billed as "Two Great Tenors on One Great Record".

Obviously, Placido Domingo was one of the great tenors of our lifetime.  The song works because, rather than try to match Domingo's performance, which would have been foolish, Denver doesn't change a thing about his style, which itself was loved by millions.

"Sleigh Ride"
by the Carpenters

Another of the most popular Christmas tunes, this was composed by Leroy Anderson.  He conceived of the idea during a heat wave in July, 1946 and finished it in February of 1948.  The lyrics were written by Mitchell Parish in 1950 while the instrumental was first recorded in 1949 by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra. 

The lyrics make no direct reference to Christmas or any religion, although some artists, including the Carpenters, changed "birthday party" to "Christmas party", and thus tied it into Christmas.  As usual, Richard Carpenter's arrangement is outstanding and Karen's vocals are personal and amazing. 

"Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth"
Bing Crosby & David Bowie

An unlikely duo teamed for this song that has become an all-time favorite.  Bing Crosby and David Bowie (?!) recorded this one.

"Little Saint Nick"
by the Beach Boys

The Beach Boys place this song in The Top Christmas Songs of All-Time*.

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