Archive for Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tinsel tunes: Think you’ve got your list of holiday favorites? Check it twice

December 7, 2008


If you’re burned out from hearing the same old overplayed holiday tunes on the supermarket intercom, this story’s for you.

Knowing that well-intentioned Christmas songs might be getting on your nerves, we asked some local audiophiles for their favorite Christmas albums and songs — and especially those off the beaten path.

Here are their suggestions. After all, the holiday season is a marathon, not a sprint — and it’s still weeks away from being over.

Chuck Mead,
lead singer,

Mead, a Lawrence native, is a fan of old country standards such as “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” by Gene Autry.

But he also likes the “semi-depressing” holiday songs such as “Pretty Paper” by Willie Nelson.

“It helps you remember in the midst of all the cheerful bustling, there are still a lot of lonely people,” Mead says.

Other favorite songs: “Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy” by Buck Owens and the Buckaroos, “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” by the Louvin Brothers and “Daddy’s Drinkin’ Up Our Christmas” by Commander Cody.

Julia Broxholm,
assistant professor of music and dance,
Kansas University

Broxholm’s pick is “A Christmas Album” by Barbra Streisand.

“She also includes some sacred music that is not particularly seasonal, but very much in keeping with the spirit of the holiday, such as Gounod’s ‘Ave Maria’ and Malotte’s ‘The Lord’s Prayer,’” Broxholm says.

Her favorite song on the album, though is “The Best Gift,” about the newborn Jesus.

“It is the reason I so much love this album: Every time I listen to it, I cry,” Broxholm says.

John Staniunas,
chairman, department of theater and film,
Kansas University

While Staniunas also says Streisand’s album is among his favorites, he thinks Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth’s new album, “A Lovely Way to Spend Christmas,” will someday be a similar standard.

He also recommends Julie Andrews tunes such as “Pat-a-Pan.”

But he admits: “My guilty pleasure is The Carpenters’ Christmas album. Karen Carpenter made a standard out of her effervescent ‘Merry Christmas Darling.’”

Hilary Morton,
choir director,
Free State High School

Morton’s favorite holiday tune is “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” as sung by Judy Garland in “Meet Me in St. Louis.”

“The original lyrics were so very dark that she insisted the lyricist and director, Vincente Minnelli, try to make it a little more positive,” Morton says. “Some original lyrics were ‘Have yourself a merry little Christmas. It may be your last. Next year we may all be living in the past.’”

She also is a fan of James Brown’s “Funky Christmas” and anything by Bing Crosby.

Scott Weiss,
director of bands,
Kansas University

“As a kid growing up, my family always listened to Nat King Cole’s Christmas album,” Weiss says. “To this day it remains my favorite holiday album and is always the first one that finds its way into my CD changer around this time of year.”

He also is a fan of Wynton Marsalis’ “Crescent City Christmas” and Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio” — especially the recording by John Elliot Gardiner.

“It’s not particularly ‘Christmasy’ in the traditional sense, but it’s terrific music,” Weiss says.

Steve Wilson,
Kief’s Downtown Music

Wilson says there are several collections of Christmas music, including “Yule Train” and “Soul Christmas,” that are among those at the top of his list.

“My favorite of them all is producer Phil Spector’s collection ‘A Christmas Gift for You,’” Wilson says. “It’s terrific from start to finish. My favorite (song) is Darlene Love’s incredible ‘Baby Please Come Home.’ David Letterman has Darlene on every year during the season to deliver this classic.”

Other favorites include Ella Fitzerald’s “Wishing You a Swingin’ Christmas” and Frank Sinatra’s “Sinatra Christmas Album.”

Dan Gailey,
director of jazz studies,
Kansas University

Gailey’s favorite jazz collection is “Jingle Bell Jazz,” which includes “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” by Pony Poindexter and “Blue Xmas” by Miles Davis.

“You have to love a recording where vocalist Bob Dorough chimes in with the line: ‘It’s a time when the greedy give a dime to the needy,’” Gailey says of the latter tune.

He’s also a fan of “The Little Drummer Boy” as performed by Cassandra Wilson.


bmwjhawk 6 years, 11 months ago

John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together

Hilary Morton 6 years, 11 months ago

YES!!! I totally forgot that one.I loved "Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat"

Phil Wilke 6 years, 11 months ago

No one mentioned "Santa Baby" by Eartha Kitt. Best Christmas song evah!!!!

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