Saturday, December 24, 2011

Rocking around the Christmas Tree?

JAN BROGAN - In the spirit of the season, I'm asking for your favorite holiday song. But not the traditional version and nothing that can be sung in church.

I'd like to know your favorite rock-and-roll rendition and why. I'll start:
And NOT just because I'm from New Jersey, my favorite is Bruce Springsteen singing Santa Claus is Coming to Town. It makes me smile every time I hear it, especially when he asks whose been good and he tells the audience: "Not many...not many."

HALLIE EPHRON: Oh, this is easy. Hands down, it's the classic comic Pogo (by Walt Kelly) version of Deck the Halls. Here's the first verse to give you the flavor:

Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash., an' Kalamazoo!
Nora's freezin' on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!

We have a whole set of little Pogo figures decking our mantle for the holiday and every season.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Oh, Hallie,I'm a big big Pogo fan! (What do you do when there's nowhere to turn? I don't turn.)
Anyway--I DO love Bruce singing Santa. But how about the Beach Boys? Singing Little Saint Nick--when the chorus is "Run-Run reindeer, Run-RUN Reindeer! He don't miss no one...")
All I want for Christmas is YOU from Love, Actually? Gotta love that one.
Oh, there must be more...last night I was singing in the kitchen: Rockin Around the Christmas Tree--is that Brenda Lee? "Jingle Bell time, its a swell time, to rock the night away". The thing that's annoying about that is that I really do NOT like that song. It just--stuck in my head. A holiday earworm.

LUCY BURDETTE: Most of the rock 'n roll renditions drive me crazy because I can't get them out of my head after I hear them. Though I love Emily Lou Harris's Christmas album--any of the songs!

RHYS BOWEN: I'm old fashioned and sentimental--Nat King Cole singing The Christmas Song.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: On sentimental side, my dad's favorite Christmas song was Silver Bells. He had a lovely voice and would always sing it to me. If we're going rock-n-roll, I think I'm with Hank on the All I Want For Christmas is You, from Love Actually. It makes me happy.

ROSEMARY HARRIS: Well, Yellowman's 12 Days of Christmas is never going to be played in church.
We're ALL geeks for All I Want for of my faves. My OTHER favorite holiday music (I'm working my way around to answering Jan's question)are John Fahey's Christmas Albums. Beautiful acoustic guitar - I've owned them on vinyl, cassette and cd. Love the Bing Crosby/David Bowie Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth but that's practically traditional now, so ...drum roll..Little Drummer Boy by Michigan and Smiley They're a reggae duo - "eh, drummer, drummer boy!"
JAN: Rhys, I love Nat King Cole's The Christmas Song, too. In fact, I have an arrangement I play on acoustic guitar, but it's a lot of crazy jazz chords, so I have to start practicing in November if I want to play it by Christmas - every year. and Ro, I do love John Fahey's accoustic Christmas albums, I'm going to have to find the tape (that's how old it is) I also like Jingle Bell Hop, but maybe because it's fun to play on guitar. It's definitely one of thoses earnworm songs thatt get stuck in your head.

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Nipping in before heading out for last minute shopping to add a couple of our favorite off-beat Christmas songs. You'll understand what sort of thing gets played at my house when I tell you one of the presents Ross requested this year was the CD of "A Rat Pack Christmas"...

And a contemporary group that our son got us turned onto: Mannheim Steamroller. Since his favorite music is Scandinavian Folk Metal (I know, I had never heard of it either) we're grateful he has some remotely mainstream holiday favorites.


  1. Oh, yay, finally some others who like some NON-traditional holiday songs!

    Can't narrow it down to one, and I like some you've already mentioned, but some of my faves are: "Christmas in the Caribbean" by Jimmy Buffett. (Esp. when he sings "we've got everything but snow!") Because I'm a Buffett fan and I love the islands!

    For Texas musicians, I like Robert Earl Keen's "Merry Christmas from the Family"---a long story-like song that reminds me of my family. And for adult-themed kooky Texas music, it has to be Terry Allen's "It's Christmas on the Isthmus"--hilarious.

    Every year, to this day, my parents still bombard us with Bing Crosby and Dennis Day. And every few years my brothers and I buy them different music, which they enjoy, but still insist on playing the oldies! We've given them music from from Dean Martin (whom Mom loves)to Willie Nelson (Dad's fave), oh and even an acoustic guitarist whose name I've forgotten, but not Fahey, tho' I might try that one!

    Hank, I had the Brenda Lee earworm the other night in my kitchen too, after grocery shopping, etc. Seems they were playing it everywhere, ugh!

    Oh, and I almost forgot, I saw Chris Isaak on TV earlier, crooning Elvis's "Blue Christmas", that was nice.

    My Spice Cake is done and ready for the Eve. Thank goodness I had a long nap today, lol.

    Happy Happy, y'all!

  2. I just remembered I also always have to hear the late-great Chicago musician-songwriter Steve Goodman sing his crazy version of "Walking in a Winter Wonderland". It was recorded live on his album "Artistic Hair" and just cracks me up, because he forgets some of the words and chords. Too funny.

  3. The Rat Pack Christmas album is playing at our house as we speak.

    Many years ago in Atlanta I was at a Bruce Springsteen concert and was lucky enough to have seats on the floor. At the end of his show they turned on all the lights and Bruce & the E Street Band starting rocking out to Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I vividly remember EVERYONE in the Omni dancing and I will always ALWAYS be a little bit in love with the Atlanta Police officer who came over and whipped me into a jitterbug I will never forget.

    Merry Christmas and Greetings of the Season to you all!

  4. Oh Lynn,

    Great to have a compatriot!

    And if you really want to get offbeat..... I really love Chrissy Hynde's Two Thousand Miles -yes, that's a Christmas song, the really me that's melancholy one that almost sounds like a standard with the refrain "It Must Be CHristmastime."

    ~ jan

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  6. ff to Pandora on my I-Phone to plug in Rat Pack Christmas... I've been listening to Frank, but now must check out Dean.

    You LUCKY DUCK, Kaye to have heard it live!


  7. One of our favorite Christmas albums is Woody Phillips "A Toolbox Christmas." Everything is played on tools--saws, hammers, ratchets. Seriously. And I'm a huge fan of Straight No Chaser's "Twelve Days of Christmas."

    Here's a YouTube of Toolbox's "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy":

    And SNC because I just want to share the evil joy. ;-)

  8. HOw about Joni Mitchell's "River"'s not happy, but it's gorgeous.

    Off to get the Rat Pack! (I alaways forget how good Dean MArtin was. Is.

    Also--you know Lipstick Chronicles is last blog is up today, and it's a tribute to my Mom. Come say goodbye...

  9. LOVE the Pretenders...wanted to be Chrissie Hynde. Yes to Rat Pack and Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas!
    Ring a ding ding!

  10. My 2 little kitties love when I sing Jingle Bells and Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandmother's House We Go.
    I can sing anything else, and they will ignore me. But if I sing one of these songs, they will come running to sit in front of me and listen. They will stay there until my voice gives out, which it does very quickly due to PPS. When I stop singing, they walk over to me and rub against my legs. This always moves me more than I expect.

  11. Oh, I forgot Eartha Kit singing Santa Baby!!! Love that! Haven't listened to much this year. Time to get out the CDs, and to wish everyone a very merry Christmas!

  12. Reine,
    We have my daughter's cat here for the week, George, who loves my manuscripts (but chiefly to sit on while i'm typing) And I'll trying singing Jingle Bells to him and let you know how it goes.

    I'm hoping to have at least ONE hour to myself today to break out the guitar and see how rusty my Jingle Bell Hop, Winter WOnderland, Greensleeves and The Christmas Song really are, and rev my accoustic arrangement of Auld Lang Syne (it's not really MY arrangement, I stole it, but its awesome) But so far, that hour isn't looking all that likely.

    Off to distribute my christmas candy to the neighbors.

    If you have a moment, come back tomorrow and see what Rosemary has managed to do -- with her choreography, musical and computer skills.

    Merry Christmas everyone!!


  13. A new holiday tradition we've been loving is BBC America's Christmas episode of "Doctor Who."

    Merry Christmas, y'all!

  14. OMG,

    I forgot about Leon Redbone and Zoey Deschanel singing
    "It's Cold Outside" I used to work at a bar in Boston during college where the band, Heidi & The Secret Admirers used to play thise Every Saturday night in December!!

  15. i love Zooey deschanel ..will look for the cd..actually asked for her at fye yesterday and they did't know who i was asking for... reminded me of the time i asked for Chuck Jones video and they thought it was porn...
    good GOD where is the basic cultural intelligence in this country??

  16. I'm something of a purist where Christmas music is concerned. I like the old traditional favorites. Unfortunately, I have been plagued by an earworm of my own today -"Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" has been stuck inside my head for HOURS, and I haven't even heard it on the radio this year! (Thank God! Although, and it embarrasses me to admit this, I used to like to sing it to my mother because she hated it! I think she's having revenge on me from beyond the grave!) Despite the fact that I have been listening to a combination of classical piano and harp and acoustic guitar Christmas CDs for the past couple of hours as background music for my baking, that darn song keeps finding a way to creep back inside my head!

    Okay, my break is over, the first four dozen cookies have cooled, and it is now time for Round Two!

    Deb (from the dearly departed TLC)

  17. Jan, the image of your daughter's cat sitting on your manuscript as you type is giving me the giggles. Let me know how he responds to Jingle Bells!

    How could I forget Redbone! I have to admit, though, when I first saw "Redbone" on my computer screen, my mind took a detour around jazz and went straight to Davis Square for smoked brisket and beans!

  18. Santa Baby! I've been singing it all day..fabulous!

    Thank you to all who came to TLC to read my blog about my mother today..xo

  19. Hank, the blog about your mum was gorgeous. xo