Friday Five: Christmas Music

Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.

After three weeks of playing non-stop holiday gigs, I thought it would be nice to have a break and clear my head…and not shovel snow off my car at 11pm in negative-degree temperatures. But, I miss it.

The music. Not the snow.

I’m a Christmas music fanatic, normally hitting play on my various homemade mix CDs long before Thanksgiving arrives. I’m the one who’s ecstatic there’s a Christmas Radio Station, who doesn’t tire of Barbra’s out of breath jingling bells or Dean and Frank’s campy marshmallow world. I can’t help it.

I realize I’m in the minority here, but my music’s too loud for me to hear you complain.

Here what I’m listening to:

5. The Nutcracker

Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece falls quickly in the eyes of most musicians. A typical Nutcracker gig can mean weeks of performances between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve—devouring a pit dweller’s holiday in one sugar-plumed bite. I’ve managed to escape the perils of these gigs, choosing to keep my holiday repetition free and my love of this score intact. Until this year. It was only five performances, but I feel like I survived and came out on the other side loving this music even more. I still was covered in goosebumps upon hearing the melodies I’ve grown to love. My first Nutcracker performance, after all, was when I was three months old. It’s in my blood. I heart you, Tchaikovsky! Here are two of my favorite numbers (neither great recordings):

The only down side to our performances was the over-zealous fog machine in the beginning of the second act. This photo was captured by our trumpeter friend, Max, who wasn’t trying to breathe/play/see/remain conscious through the smoke. Lucky him.

Nutcracker fog in pit 4

4. The Wild Cards

Not every Christmas album is an entire hit. Actually, there are very few whose every track I adore. Just because you can rock out some Fa La La La Las, does not mean your Caribbean Silent Night works. Here are some singles that survive my track skipping:

Mariah’s All I Want for Christmas
Ella’s Sleigh Ride
She & Him’s The Christmas Waltz
Bobby’s Jingle Bell Rock
Vince Guaraldi Trio’s O Tannenbaum

3. The Classics

If you were competing on Family Feud and Ray Combs (NOT Steve Harvey, please) said “someone who sings Christmas Carols”…who would you say? I’d go with Bing. How could you not say Bing Crosby? (If the round came back to me again, I’d say Andy Williams.) These are the quintessential tunes for the season. I could listen to these albums all day (and have).

Suggested listening:

Bing: The Voice of Christmas
Andy: Complete Christmas Recordings

2. The Crooners

Somewhere around high school, I fell for the dulcet tunes of Harry Connick, Jr. It began a total infatuation that’s lasted half my life: I love old-fashioned crooners. The style has evolved slightly, but it’s these crooners that make me swooners:

Harry Connick, Jr.
Christmas with the Rat Pack
Michael Bublé

1. Brass

If I can’t hear the words, I better be able to hear brass. You can go the traditional route, like with The Philadelphia Brass Ensemble, but I like my Christmas with a side of jazz. Stan Kenton, actually. His original Christmas album is incredible, but we tend to prefer The Capital Bones’ version.

Suggested listening:

A Stan Kenton Christmas by The Capital Bones Big Band
Kenton’s original A Merry Christmas
Philly’s Festival of Carols

Whatever you like, just crank it up and sing along. ‘Tis the season for that to be okay.

Any albums/singles you think should’ve made the cut? Any artist you wish would record an album? I’m lookin’ at YOU, Brandi Carlile. #prettyprettyplease????

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4 thoughts on “Friday Five: Christmas Music

  1. Love your list! I fell in love with Sufjan Stevens’ Christmas collection a few years back and this year we added Pink Martini’s “Joy to the World’ album to the mix. The 2 songs that always gets skipped? “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and “Santa Baby.” 🙂

  2. Pingback: # MIA (Marci in Action) | hashtag marci

  3. Pingback: Friday Five: Christmas Countdown | hashtag marci

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