5 great christmas albums
A few years ago, my wife and I thought it would be fun to put together our own mix of Christmas music. Napster had just become legal, and songs were a dollar a download. We figured it was worth it because there were so few Christmas albums where we could say we liked all or even most of the songs that were on them. Well, that experiment turned into a stunning success, and we ended up with 2 60-minute CDs that we still listen to year, after year. But we do have a collection of stock CDs that we also like quite a lot, and also listen to every year. Here's a list of 5 of our best.
#1: Bing Crosby's White Christmas.
Ever since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny Kaye in the film of the same name, in 1954, it just isn't Christmas without Bing Crosby's White Christmas. This particular CD though goes beyond the Hollywood glam and straight to the heart of an idyllic winter living room complete with crackling fireplace. It's an old radio broadcast from the 1940's and it's got all the warmth and charm that goes with it. At times, it's almost as if Bing is in the living room caroling with you - in fact, he even encourages you to "sing in the family key" at one point. This music is timeless and reaches across the generations. It's a great CD for kids from 2 to 92.
#2: A Charlie Brown Christmas, featuring Vince Guaraldi and Peanuts.
Much like Bing Crosby's White Christmas, Christmas for me isn't complete without A Charlie Brown Christmas. This has all the classics from the television special. It's also very jazzy, in a cool jazz way. I find it offers a nice, relaxed change to the more mainstream feel of much Christmas music.
#3: When My Heart Finds Christmas, by Harry Connick Jr.
This is just an all around great CD! Harry does an excellent job on the standards; they're fun, fresh and lively. It's evident that he's having a great time singing and playing them. He also has a few of his own compositions, but they blend so well that they sneak up on you and you soon find yourself signing along with him. As with the A Charlie Brown Christmas, the music on this CD is very jazzy. But it's more of a big-band 40's swing style jazz than a 50's cool style.
#4: A Christmas Together: The Muppets, John Denver.
Yeah, I know, you think I'm crazy (and you probably should), but hear me out on this one. Long before we had kids, my wife and I would pull this one out every year for the holidays. It's a great sing-a-long CD. It's poignant, relaxed, and just plain fun. It's great for anyone with kids, or anyone who might have been a kid. The Muppets generally come into the CD on the upbeat caroling tracks, and John Denver takes center stage for the ballads, and slower songs. OK, fine... call it a guilty pleasure, but it becomes a purely joyful guilt-less pleasure with kids.
#5: Christmas Goes Baroque (various).
This CD features relaxing renditions of traditional carols done in a Baroque style. It's light and fun and makes great background dinner music or Christmas morning music. It's also fun to hear such easily recognizable and traditional carols performed in a completely different way.
That's my top 5 list, but I'd love to hear what's on yours. Please leave a comment or two, but please- no flames. Not even about John Denver and the Muppets. :-)
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