The theme for the next four weeks is “Christmas” here on MMMM. Interesting, because last year my theme for The Thursday Ten was Christmas songs all month, ending on Christmas itself, which was a Thursday last year. Interesting how things work, isn’t it?
It would have been easy to just rerun last year’s lists and be done with it, but the more I thought about it, the more I decided I wanted to build new playlists, albeit with most of the same songs as last year. Rearrange them, build them into playlists, write up a little about each song, and make this a more or less new list, and do the same for the rest of the Mondays this month. Last year it was just “here’s the songs, kids” and I was done with it. This year I’m going to put in a little more effort. How’s that? So, let’s get started…
- Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee: Seems this is the first Christmas song I hear every year, and this year was no exception. The diminutive Ms. Lee was just thirteen in 1958 when she recorded this song.
- Linus and Lucy – Los Straitjackets: I found this on Guitar World’s website, and when I heard it, I immediately thought, “I just gotta use this one!” Vince Guaraldi wrote it for A Charlie Brown Christmas, which turns 50 this year, and I remember the first time it aired. Los Straitjackets, who apparently always play in those masks, give it a surf feel and really rock out the joint with it.
- Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms: Another harbinger of the Yuletide season for me is this one. Bobby was a country star, but this one from 1957 made him popular on the Pop side.
- I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas – Gayla Peevey: Gayla was just ten years old, even younger than Brenda Lee, when she recorded this in 1953. Oddly enough, Gayla is older than Brenda. I hadn’t heard this one until a few years ago, but it’s a cute song, and Gayla was very cute, as you can see. I’m not sure she thought the hippopotamus thing through, though; they spend most of their time in water, as their name (meaning “river horse”) implies.
- Mele Kalikimaka – Bing Crosby with the Fontaine Sisters: One of our friends from church is a woman who was born and grew up in Hawai’i. We asked her how much Hawai’ian she spoke, and she said “about as much as you do.” She does speak it well enough to say one of the petitions on Pentecost, when she shows up in a muu-muu and a wreath around her head… Anyway, the song is fun, especially singing all the “k”s, and Der Bingle is in fine voice here.
- The Twelve Days of Christmas – Allan Sherman: If you were to ask me in 1965 what my favorite musical acts were, I would tell you The Beatles and Allan Sherman. I think I had half his albums, and this was one of the songs on one of them. He died over forty years ago, but his stuff is still funny, if a bit dated.
- It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Andy Williams: Andy Williams was a great entertainer with a gorgeous voice, and his Christmas album is still a best-seller. His Christmas special was one of the highlights of the Christmas season for us. For that matter, all his weekly shows were great. I always enjoyed it when he’d get laughing at the hijinks of one of his guest. He was having such great fun, it was hard not to enjoy it.
- It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas – Perry Como: Perry was a real class act, and I respect that. He was also a great singer who, like Williams, had a popular weekly TV show. Something that I can appreciate more as I get older was that he wasn’t afraid to perform religious music on his show. Not that this is a religious song…
- Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer – Gene Autry: The biggest-selling record from one of the classic cowboy singers. The song was written by a man who worked in the copywriting department of Montgomery Ward’s as a gift for his daughter the year his wife and her mother died. Eventually he shared it with his company, and a legend was born. That’s what I heard, anyway.
- Feliz Navidad – José Feliciano: José is still going strong, and this is a wonderful Christmas song, recorded 45 years ago and still a classic. The words are simple enough and repeated enough times that anyone can pick it up.
And that’s it for this week. Back with more Christmas hits next week.