My Favorite Christmas Tunes
Christmas Tunes on my Radio
The closer we get to Christmas the more I listen to the radio because I love the music that accompanies this season. Though I have favorite Christmas hymns like O Come All Ye Faithful, Joy to the World, and Away in a Manger, these don’t travel the radio waves very often. So the list I’ve prepared includes mostly those I’ve grown to love outside the church walls. The list is fluid; it changes all the time, so I couldn’t stop at 10. How many of these make your "favorites" list? Ok, here goes...
1. Now Behold the Lamb- Kirk Franklin and the Family
Franklin directs his group in a soul stirring tune that takes listeners straight to church. The tune tells the story of one who has not always lived like Christ but is proudly proclaiming Christ as king. The words and music just move you; what more can I say?
2. Silent Night- The Temptations
This traditional tune is spiced up with funk and soul and the deep bass voicings of the late Melvin Franklin. It is such a beautiful rendition of a beautiful song that tells of the birth of Christ. I must admit I also like renditions by Gladys Knight and the Pips, BeBe and Cee Cee Winans… and just about anyone else.
3. This Christmas- Donnie Hathaway,
Donnie Hathaway's rendition holds my heart but I also love the song done by The Whispers, Chris Brown and just about anyone else who sings it. It is more secular than most on my list, focusing on making this a special Christmas with that special someone. Smooth, smooth vocals.
4. Some Day at Christmas- Stevie Wonder
I don't remember anyone else singing this tune, though I'm sure others have tried their hands. The song has a beautiful message of the potential of human beings to rise to the challenge of loving each other and building a life of peace. Soft and soulful.
5. Mary, Did You Know- Helen Baylor
Perfect melody for perfect lyrics asking Mary, the mother of Jesus, if she knew her son would become the savior of the world. Catches listener off guard thinking of Mary as a mother not a character in a story.
6. Let’s Make This Christmas Mean Something –James Brown
This may be a surprise to most, but the “Hardest working man in show business” made a Christmas album back in the 70’s. This cut says let’s stop focusing on the superficial and look to helping others and making the season mean more than gifts.
7. Let it Snow- Boys To Men
I just love the lyrics and harmony of this cut. The guys are singing about romantic love, saying that even if it’s cold outside, the two of us will be cozy next to the fire. No bad weather will interfere with our love.
8. Little Drummer Boy- Gladys Knight and the Pips
I must admit I love this song regardless of who sings it, but Gladys Knight’s version has a little something extra that brings the message home. It leaves you feeling spiritually full hearing the drummer boy offer to give what he could, his music, to the baby Jesus.
9. The Hallelujah Chorus- Sounds of Blackness (Quincy Jones)
Handel would either be proud “as all get out” to hear Quincy Jones’ spiced up version of his masterpiece, or he’d roll over in his grave. To me, Jones did a great job adding funk and soul to this already perfect piece. Not only does it make you want to sing along, the beat makes you want to lift your hands in praise.
10. Every Year, Every Christmas- Luther Vandross
This melancholy tune tells the story of lovers who promise to meet every year at the same place. Listeners might get confused as to whether the meetings actually happen, but we’re sure that the singer is adamant that regardless of what others say, he’ll be right back there waiting for her next Christmas because his love for her is bigger than the possible humiliation.
11. Give Love at Christmas Time- The Temptations
The title says it all. This song suggests that the season is truly about love and that every day should be treated like Christmas day.
12. O Holy Night- Smoky Norful
Even though this title is last on my list, it is definitely not the least in my heart. Norful does not funk-up this tune. He just adds so much feeling that it gets right inside your heart and stays there even after the music stops.
The List Could Go On
So, that's my list of 12 because I couldn't leave either of these off. But in just a moment I could hear number 13 and on to 20 because new tunes just keep coming out and old tunes keep being re-made. Great music for a great season...