Monday, December 21, 2009

The Mix & Mingle: Jingle Bell Rock.

So, I write to you curled up with my dog on my lap, sitting in the family room of my childhood home. Yes folks, I made it home. One tank of gas, 2 Christmas CDs, and 10 dollars paid to 2 neighborhood boys to help dig my car out of the snowy abyss, I am home for the holidays, and there's no place I'd rather be.

All of the Holiday tunes that kept me company on the ride home have inspired me to share some of my favorite holiday albums with you all. If you remember several posts ago, I gave you my list of favorite albums for year-round cocktail parties, barbecues, and just slubbing around on a Sunday. Same story, just yule-tide-afied. I know that's not a real word, but indulge me, it's Christmas. The best part? These are the kind of albums you can pop in the CD player or upload on your Ipod and just let them play. No skipping a song, just let it ride. The right music is the perfect compliment to your holiday decor and favorite dishes. I mean, who wants Robert Goulet belting "Oh Holy Night" during your office Christmas Cocktail? I didn't think so. It came upon a Midnight Awkward.

In no particular order:

1. "A Charlie Brown Christmas" -Vince Guaraldi Trio
If you ask me, there's no real match for this iconic holiday album. Vince Guaraldi captures the humor, joy, and child-like wonder of one of my favorite holiday specials. The smooth piano and jazzy qualities make this the perfect album for a holiday cocktail party, great background music for opening presents Christmas morning, or when you're making your list and checking it twice. The innocence in the children's voices circa 1965 on "Christmas Time is Here" get me every single time. Image Credit:

2. "Jazz For Joy: A Verve Christmas Album"-Various Artists
A Christmas CD for true jazz lovers. Features legends like Abbey Lincoln, Christian McBride, and Roy Hargrove. The perfect CD for your next Christmas party or holiday gathering. Even the numbers with vocals make great background music. There's just something haunting about Lincoln's Christmas Cheer. Give it a listen, you'll be glad you did. Image Credit:

3. "Christmas With the Rat Pack"- The Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr.)
Transport yourself back to the days of Vegas luxury, martinis, and the real swingers ala sleigh bells, mistletoe, and snow. Digitally-remastered, recognizable classics from the infamous Rat Pack. I love Sammy Davis Jr.'s "Christmas Time All Over the World." Sinatra's "Christmas Waltz" is the perfect song for a quick spin around the kitchen island with the one you love. Fun, upbeat songs that will last you all season. Image Credit:

4. "James Taylor at Christmas"-James Taylor and Friends
Great, mellow remakes of holiday classics from ol' JT himself. He's joined by other great stars on the tracks like Natalie Cole (Baby, It's Cold Outside) and trumpeter Chris Botti (Winter Wonderland). Gorgeous, simple, smooth version of "Some Children See Him." Image Credit:

5. Christmas Remixed: Holiday Classics Regrooved-Various Artists
Great holiday party tracks. This album is very Christmas meets the club. This is the kind of CD you want if you're holiday party has a very cocktail/young/urban vibe. You'll actually recognize a lot of these DJ'd mixes from GAP and other holiday commercials. Kay Starr's "I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm" mix is awesome, and you'll get a great laugh out of the remix to Louis Armstrong's "Baby, It's Cold Outside." Totally Fun. This is one of those albums that will cause your guests to ask "where do you get your music/where did you get this song?" This also makes a great addition to your Ipod if you occasionally like to rock the Christmas music at the gym. I wouldn't know what that's like or anything. I don't look like the kind of guy who would listen to Christmas music on a rowing machine, do I? Because I'm not. I've just heard it's good for the gym. Available on Itunes.
Image Credit: Itunes

6. Holiday Pops-The Boston Pops (Keith Lockhart or Arthur Fielding conducting)
My sister and I made a trip to Boston to visit a good friend the week before Christmas a few years ago. We were treated to an actual Holiday Pops concert with the Boston Pops, in Boston. Let me tell you, it doesn't get much more Merry Christmas than that. It's the classic sound of an orchestra playing "Sleigh Ride" you've come to know and love. There are a ton of Holiday Pops albums available with both Lockhart (current conductor) and the original, great Arthur Fielding. You can't go wrong with any of them. However, I'm really partial to "Sleigh Ride"--the album that came out when we went to the show. Image Credit:

7. December-Chris Botti
Smooth, melodic tunes from the infamous trumpeter. Perfect for a rare, quiet night at home by the fire during the holidays. Also great for a nice sit-down Christmas Eve or Christmas dinner. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" will break your holiday heart. Image Credit:

8. Christmas With the Beach Boys
Don't laugh. It's just a really fun, innocent, beachy, up-beat album. You just have to smile and laugh when these songs come on. I would be lying though, if I didn't tell you that I may or may not have been President of my high school concert choir, and we may or may not have done an all-male version of the Beach Boys' "Little Saint Nick." We also may or may not have worn sunglasses, tuxedos, and Santa hats. It may or may not have seemed really cool at the time. Good times. Image Credit:

I could seriously make this a day-long entry. (If you only knew how much I love Christmas--fool. for. the. yule.) Here are a few other favorite holiday numbers, perfect for your playlist that I don't associate with an entire album:

1. All I Want For Christmas Is You-Mariah Carey
2. Celebrate Me Home- Kenny Logins
3. What Are You Doing New Years Eve?- Lena Horne
4. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting)-Darius Rucker/Hootie and the Blowfish
5. This Christmas-Donny Hathaway (Christina Aguilera is a fun alternative, as well.)
6. Christmas: Baby Please Come Home-Darlene Love
7. Santa Claus is Coming to Town-Bruce Springstein
8. It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year-Andy Williams
9. When My Heart Finds Christmas-Harry Connick Junior
10. My Grown-Up Christmas List-Michael Buble
11. The Bell That Couldn't Jingle-Herb Albert & The Tijuana Brass
12. Step Into Christmas-Elton John
13. Christmas Star-John Williams (Home Alone 2)
14. Christmas Don't Be Late-Alvin & The Chipmunks
15. White Christmas-Bing Crosby (also my favorite Christmas movie)
16. Christmas in New Orleans-Louis Armstrong
17. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow-Frank Sinatra
18. What Christmas Means to Me-Stevie Wonder
19. Everybody's Waitin' For the Man With the Bag-Kay Starr
20. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas-Coldplay
21. Santa Baby-Earth Kitt & Henri Renni

Once again, the list could go on and on. You're talking to a guy with over 200 songs on his holiday playlist (don't judge.) However, I thought this would give you a great start/some fun new additions to your collection for holidays to come.

All is Calm, All is Bright. All is Simple.


  1. Wow! This is incredible. I can't wait to go to Barnes and Noble and listen to the CD's you have recommended.

  2. Kenny Loggins' "Celebrate Me Home" is one of my secret jams!! It always brings a tear to my eye, because my dad used it in a family video a few years back. Yay!