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The rare occurrence of the 12th day of the 12th month of the year 2012 offers an opportunity for all of us to think for a day in terms of dozens. Here are three-dozen of my favorite recordings at Christmas time. Some of these selections reflect that I am extremely nostalgic (and perhaps getting old), others reflect an eclectic taste and acceptance of some of the modern musical artists of this age.
12 secular favorites
My list of 12 favorite secular Christmas recordings includes a list that is long on oldies, yet includes timeless recordings that continue to dominate the airwaves in December. They are (in no particular order of preference): White Christmas, Bing Crosby; The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire), Nat King Cole (lovely orchestral arrangement and piano solo); Walking in a Winter Wonderland, Annie Lennox; Frosty the Snowman, Jimmy Durante; The Chipmunk Song, The Chipmunks (I still marvel at how David Seville taught them to sing—and in harmony too!); There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays, Perry Como (another Mr. Smooth like Bing); Jingle Bell Rock, Bobby Helms; Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, Brenda Lee; Merry Christmas Darling, The Carpenters (Richard’s orchestration and harmony vocals accentuated Karen’s lovely voice); Marshmallow World, Dean Martin; The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Andy Williams; and It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, Bing Crosby.
12 comedy favorites
My 12 favorite Christmas comedy recordings include three by comic genius Stan Freberg who was dominating the airwaves back in the 1950s when I was knee-high to a flea: Green Christmas, Christmas Dragnet and I’m Getting Nuttin’ for Christmas, Stan Freberg; 12 Days of Christmas, Allen Sherman (I didn’t include this monotonous song in the previous list because it’s only fun when it’s funny); I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas, Gayla Peevey (my granddaughter wants one this year!); Everywhere it’s Christmas and Good King Wenceslas, two songs recorded in the 1960s by The Beatles for their worldwide fan club but never released commercially; All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth, Spike Jones; Blue Christmas, Seymour Swine (Porky Pig does Elvis); Santa Claus and His Old Lady, Cheech and Chong; You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch, Thurl Ravenscroft, (the voice of Tony the Tiger); and Jingle Bells, The Singing Dogs (yeah, they really sing but the Chipmunks could sing in English!).
12 sacred favorites
I saved the the most important for last. After all, Christ is the reason for CHRISTmas. My 12 favorite sacred Christmas recordings include: Hallelujah Chorus: Oak Ridge Boys; Silent Night, Bing Crosby; O Come All Ye Faithful, Elvis Presley (excellent arrangement with backing vocals by The Imperials and full choral accompaniment); On a Snowy Christmas Night, Elvis Presley; O Holy Night, The Imperials; Go Tell it on the Mountain, Hovie Lister and the Statesmen Quartet; Carol of the Bells, Trans Siberian Orchestra (this one really rocks!); Do You Hear What I Hear?, Bing Crosby; Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy, Bing Crosby and David Bowie (from Bing’s final TV Christmas special recorded weeks before his death in 1977); Emmanuel, Amy Grant (written by Michael W. Smith); Mary Did You Know?, Gaither Vocal Band; and Joy to the World, Blackwood Brothers/Statesmen Quartet.
Don’t look for a 13-13-13 on next year’s calendar because you won’t find it. Merry Christmas and Happy Listening!