Working in broadcasting, the holidays can be very annoying. You’re assaulted by the same Christmas songs over and over… and when you’re on the air, you can’t turn off the radio. (“Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” should be outlawed by the Geneva Convention. And please stop it with the Mariah Carey.)
But over the years, I’ve noticed a few that don’t make me want to jab a pen into my brain. It’s a very short list.
First up is my personal favorite, “I Believe in Father Christmas.” Now, there are a few different versions of this one. The single is attributed to Greg Lake, who wrote the tune. An album version is attributed to the group he was in at the time, Emerson Lake and Palmer. And being the faithful son of prog that I am, I am bound by a religious oath to like it.
There are a few versions floating around on YouTube. One is a ridiculously sped-up recording with what passed as a music video in those days. Another is a newer live version of Greg Lake singing in a church with some help from Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson. But this one is close to the actual album version I love, though for some unknown reason they’ve added a loud choir and orchestra, I’m guessing out of spite.
As far as “classics” are concerned, there’s one of them I never tire of, no matter who’s singing it. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is about as perfect a song as humans can make. There are way too many versions to choose from and I like nearly all of them, but I settled on Frank Sinatra’s because, hey, Sinatra.
And finally, we come to the king of the Christmas pack, a song so iconic and representative of the holiday it’s simply called “The Christmas Song.” And the best version is by, naturally, Nat King Cole.
Oh look, there’s time for one more. Okay, honorable mention goes to The Eagles and “Baby Please Come Home.” I’ve always loved the slightly bluesy, California rock feel.