Back Spin

By Rick Lyle

‘Tis the season to be inundated with those sounds of the season. By the time this hits the stands, you might have already had your fill of festive tunes at retail stores, offices and shopping centers, serving as a background to get you in the holiday spirit. Additionally, there will be at least one radio station in each market churning out the tunes 24/7 ad nauseam, from Black Friday straight through to Christmas Day. Rather than write a piece on the history of Christmas songs, I thought it might be more fun to put together some lists. I hope you’ll find them as interesting as I did as I dug my heels in to do the research. Inevitably, some of your personal favorites and versions of songs will be absent from this list. Much is factual, but clearly, a portion of the lists are subjective. Furthermore, Handel’s Messiah and the like are magnificent, but this list wasn’t intended to be quite THAT sophisticated. So fire up the ol’ Turntable, Cassette Player, 8 Track Machine or CD player and take these for a spin as you decorate. If you’re the digital type, most, if not all of these can be purchased on music download sites such as Itunes. Go ahead and rock around that Christmas tree as often as possible! As for me? I’ll probably be hanging out under a Mistletoe somewhere munching on a pizzelle. Merry Christmas one and all!

Pop Essentials:

There’s No Place Like Home For The Holidays-Perry Como (1954)
A Holly Jolly Christmas-Burl Ives (1964)
All I Want For Christmas Is You (Different Song)-Vince Vance & The Valiants (1989)
All I Want For Christmas Is You-Mariah Carey (1994)
Baby It’s Cold Outside (1949) – A fun version of this ditty is on the soundtrack of the movie Elf, sung by Zooey Deschanel and Will Ferrell.
Blue Christmas-Elvis Presley (1964) Recorded in 1957
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)-Darlene Love (1963)
Christmas Eve/Sarajevo-Trans Siberian Orchestra (1996)
Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You-Billy Squire (1981)
Do They Know It’s Christmas-Band Aid (1984)
Feliz Navidad-Jose Feliciano (1970)
Happy Christmas-John Lennon (1971)
Happy Holidays-Bing Crosby (1942)
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas-Judy Garland (1944)
Here Comes Santa Claus-Gene Autry (1947)
I’ll Be Home For Christmas-Bing Crosby (1943)
It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas-Perry Como & The Fontaine Sisters (1951)
It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year-Andy Williams (1963)
Jingle Bell Rock-Bobby Helms (1957)
Last Christmas-Wham! (1984)
Let It Snow!-Vaughn Monroe (1945)
Little Saint Nick-Beach Boys (1963)
Merry Christmas Darling-The Carpenters (1970)
Mistletoe And Holly-Frank Sinatra (1957)
Please Come Home For Christmas-The Eagles (1978) Originally by blues artist, Charles Brown
Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree-Brenda Lee (1958)
Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer-Gene Autry (1949)
Santa Baby-Eartha Kitt (1953)
Sleigh Ride-Johnny Mathis (1958)
Someday At Christmas-Stevie Wonder (1967)
Step Into Christmas-Elton John (1973)
The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire) (1946) Nat “King” Cole (Robert Wells & Mel Torme (Written in 40 minutes on a hot summer day”)
The Christmas Waltz- Frank Sinatra (1954) Another song written in summer. According to Sammy Cahn & Jule Styne… Frank Wants A Christmas Song” Refuse a direct order from the “The Chairman Of The Board? I think not.
The Little Drummer Boy-Harry Simeone Chorale (1957)
The Twelve Days Of Christmas-Mitch Miller (1961)
Up On The House Top- The second-oldest secular Christmas song, only to “Jingle Bells written in 1857. It wasn’t until 2005, that Kimberly Locke’s version became the most successful take according to Billboard magazine.
We Need A Little Christmas-Percy Faith (1966)
White Christmas-Bing Crosby (1942)
Winter Wonderland-Guy Lombardo (1946)
Wonderful Christmastime-Paul McCartney (1979)

Novelty Songs:

All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth-Spike Jones (1948)
Dominick The Donkey (The Italian Christmas Donkey)-Lou Monte (1960)
Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer-Elmo & Patsy (1979)
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus -Jimmy Boyd (1952)
I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas- Gayla Peavey (1953)
Jingle Bells- The Singing Dogs (Note: This version of the traditional tune was produced by Carl Weismann and Don Charles. The 1956 recording featured five different dogs to find the correct five notes of the song. The snippets were then spliced together the “old school” way by using a razor blade and magnetic splicing tape!)
Nuttin’ For Christmas-Barry Gordon (1955)
Santa Claus And His Old Lady-Cheech & Chong (1971)
Santa Claus Is Watching You-Ray Stevens (1962)
The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)-The Chipmunks (1958)
There’s Something Stuck Up In The Chimney (The actually song title is “The Chimney Song” by Bob Rivers (1988)
Up On the House Top-Gene Autry (1956)
Snoopy’s Christmas-The Royal Guardsmen (1967)

Some Doo-Wop & Pop Oldies (near and dear to my heart):

A Christmas Long Ago-The Echelons (1987)
You’re My Christmas Present-The Skyliners (1990)
White Christmas-The Drifters (1954)
Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer-Cadillacs (1957)
Merry Merry Christmas Baby-Dodie Stevens (1960)

Must Have Christmas Albums:

A Christmas Album-Barbra Streisand (1967)
A Christmas Gift To You-Phil Spector (1963)
A Christmas Portrait-The Carpenters (1978)
Merry Christmas-Johnny Mathis (1958)
The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album (1964)

And Finally, For The New Year’s Eve Bash!:

After New Year’s Eve-The Heartbeats (1957)
Another New Year’s Eve-Barry Manilow (1977)
Auld Lang Syne-Guy Lombardo (1953)
Same Old Lang Syne-Dan Fogelberg (1980)
What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?-The Orioles (1949)

Portions of the information included are courtesy of Billboard and Record Research, Inc.