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My Five Favorite Country Christmas CD's
My Favorite Country Christmas CD's...
And two fantastic honorable mentions
I love Christmas music! Always have, and I guess I always will. There is something so very special about the way country music artists record just the perfect songs for Christmas. It has to be the down to earth demeanor of most country artists, so real, and with so much truth woven into the lyrics that anyone can relate to them.
Whenever I am having trouble getting into the Christmas spirit, I pull out one of my favorite country Christmas CD's and sing along, it doesn't take long at all to get into the spirit when someone like Alan Jackson is singing the stunningly beautiful song he wrote for his second Christmas album called "Let It Be Christmas," or when Martina McBride is belting out her heartwarming rendition of "White Christmas".
I have to admit, when I thought about creating this list, it was a toss up between two albums, both of which I would put at number one. So, to take the easy way out, it's a tie! Alan Jackson is tied with Martina McBride for the BEST country Christmas CD, and I have a feeling that neither one of them would mind one bit, they are both in excellent company! They have a wonderful mutual admiration for one another as well.
Alan Jackson's "Let It Be Christmas" came out in November of 2002 and it has been a classic since it came out. One listen through this album will have you in a nostalgic mood, very much reflecting on Christmas's past in your life. His gorgeous renditions of such classics as "The Christmas Song" (Chestnuts roasting on an open fire)"... and Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" will have you singing along all the way... and speaking of along the way, where else can you hear the SECOND verse of "Jingle Bells?" I hadn't heard it on ANY other Christmas album until I bought this one.
The song includes mostly Christmas standards, along with one absolutely brilliant self-penned song called "Let It Be Christmas." Even though it was written for this album, it has such a classic sound, one would never even know that it hadn't been around for years. It's THAT good!
Some Christmas classics are difficult for vocalists to pull off, but Alan does just that, flawlessly and effortlessly, on such classics as "Away In A Manger" and the acoustic sounding "Silent Night" and even "O Come All Ye Faithful."
Alan Jackson's Christmas CD "Let It Be Christmas" has been compared to some of the best Christmas albums in all genre's of music, including those by Johnny Mathis and Nat King Cole.
Tied with Alan, (did I tell you I was taking the easy way out?) Yep, tied with Alan is Martina McBride's beautiful Christmas album called "White Christmas." There is not a song on this album that is less than wonderful. That goes for "Let It Snow," "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," "Silver Bells," and "I'll Be Home For Christmas."
By far, the standout song on this CD is her amazing version of "O Holy Night." That song gives me goosebumps every time! And we were fortunate enough to see her live Christmas show twice when we lived in Wisconsin, and her live version of the song is absolutely stellar, we could hear a pin drop in the audience... everyone was paying rapt attention while she sang it.
This version of her "White Christmas" CD includes a duet with Dean Martin on the song "Baby It's Cold Outside." What an interesting thing that today's technology can accomplish, allowing current artists to sing a "duet" with someone from the past... I bet back when people listened to 78 rpm records on a Victrola, they never could have imagined the technology we have today!
And I'd be willing to bet that today, we cannot possibly imagine what technology will bring 30 years from now! It'll be interesting to see, for sure!
Some More Amazing Country Christmas CD's
Patty Loveless' Christmas CD, "Bluegrass, White Snow" is my next pick, beautifully haunting, soaring vocals, and just the right amount of bluegrass and mountain soul make this an achingly spectacular Christmas CD. I could listen over and over to the classics on this one, like "Away In A Manger" and "Silent Night" and "Little Drummer Boy," featuring such instruments as fiddle, dobro and strumming guitars. Then you have some gorgeous bluegrass songs on here that make it one of the most interesting Christmas CD's among my picks for the best.
Patty Loveless sounds absolutely wonderful on such bluegrass songs as "Christmas Times A Comin'" and a very bluegrass sounding "Santa Train." You can just imagine little children running along after the Santa Train when you listen to that one! Then the final song on the CD "Bluegrass, White Snow" is a terrific way to bring the spirit and feel of a gorgeous snow covered mountain Christmas into one's home. Featuring Dolly Parton and Ricky Scaggs singing background, how can you go wrong? "Bluegrass, White Snow.... memories and an old banjo"... this Christmas CD is one of the very best in Country music!
George Strait is known for being a "country classicist" and his Christmas albums are no different. Never one to stray too terribly far from classic country music, listening to his Christmas CD "Fresh Cut Christmas" is kind of like slipping into your favorite pair of fuzzy slippers at the end of a long day.. thoroughly relaxing and comfortable.
You know exactly what you're going to get with George Strait, and he brings his beautiful pure country vocals to such Christmas classics as "Joy To The World," "We Three Kings," "Silent Night," and "Jingle Bells." Then for a touch of whimsy, the bouncy "Up On The Housetop" is thrown in for good measure, and is such a fantastic addition, it reminded me so much of hearing this song sung when I was a child, and he got every word right on it, even the "click, click, click's." Wonderful memories, and isn't that what Christmas is all about?
In fact George Strait himself said about this CD "Christmas is a wonderful time when new memories are made and old ones resurface. I hope my fans will make Fresh Cut Christmas a new tradition in their homes during this happy season."
Originally, this CD was available at Hallmark Gold Crown stores during December of 2006, but is now pretty readily available, especially through online retailers. Definitely a great Christmas CD to add to one's collection.
And my fifth pick for the very BEST Country Christmas CD's is the wonderful Charlie Daniels Band and their CD "A Merry Christmas To All." Released in 2002, this has been a favorite for years, and this CD has such a traditional feel to it, as well as some "down home flavor" added for good measure.
From the standards on this CD such as "I'll Be Home For Christmas," and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," as well as "O Little Town Of Bethlehem," to the delightfully playful tunes like "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer," and "Frosty The Snowman" if you're anything like me, you'll find yourself singing right along with the Charlie Daniel's Band.
This is such a great classic Christmas CD to have on in the background while you're decorating the tree and your home, or even while wrapping presents. And Charlie has even written three songs on this CD, making it a truly original and wonderful piece of work. The last tune, "It's Bad To Have The Blues" (at Christmas time), is a great way to finish off a wonderfully entertaining Christmas CD. And to top it all off? Charlie Daniels even LOOKS like Santa on the cover! White beard and twinkling eyes and all!
Now if you're more in the mood for a Christmas "compilation" CD, a great one is called "Star of Wonder." This one features a lot of fantastic country stars from the 1990's and has tunes included from Alan Jackson, Brooks and Dunn, Diamond Rio, and even some fun artists like BR-549, and "The Tractors." It's one of those Christmas CD's that has something that everyone will love. From Alan's great rendition of "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer" to "Swingin' Home For Christmas" by the Tractors, everyone will greatly enjoy this multifaceted Christmas CD. This is one that if added to one's Christmas collection, will be reached for again and again.
And I could NOT end this without another honorable mention to one of the funniest and BEST Christmas songs of all times... maybe because I can relate so well to the lyrics... ehem... we won't go there.
BUT, "Sugarland" DID go there by including the song "Nuttin' For Christmas" on their Christmas CD titled "Gold and Green." This is a wonderful rendition of the classic song from the 1950's, featuring such lyrics as "I'm getting nuttin' for Christmas, Mommy and Daddy are mad... I'm getting nuttin' for Christmas, cuz I can't be nothin' but bad." And "I broke my doll on Kenny's head, somebody snitched on me, I put a frog in my sister's bed, somebody snitched on me" and even "I spilled ink on Mama's rug, and I bought some gum with a penny slug"... not that I ever did anything even remotely like these examples... hush up, you know who you are!
I just love the lyrics like "I tied a knot in Sarah's hair, somebody snitched on me, I put a tack on teacher's chair, somebody snitched on me." And about being good, "I'd start now, but it's too late." Ok, been there done that.
This is a wonderful song and reminded me of... something... oh wait, I was a wonderful little angel growing up and never remotely did anything mischevous... oh crap, Santa is watching...
Well, if this hasn't gotten you into the Christmas spirit, I don't know what else could possibly do that. Pick up one of these fantastic CD's (or all of 'em and just let 'em spin and spin in your CD player). You'll be glad you did! And Merry Christmas!