Holiday Sampler, December 31

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Here’s to a bright and happy new year for all of us!

December 31: Carpenters, “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”

Holiday Sampler, December 28

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If you haven’t seen the show “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” you’re missing out.  It’s hilarious, it’s filled with Broadway-esque tunes, and it’s insanely addictive.  I can often be found singing or humming the songs from the show as I go about my day.

But did you know that the show’s creator and star, Rachel Bloom, also produced an album of Hanukkah comedy songs?  They’re a bit racy and explicit, so if you’re sensitive to that kind of thing, you might want to skip it, but if you don’t mind a humorous take on Jewish culture, give it a whirl.  Trust me — you’ll be humming these tunes for weeks.

December 28: Rachel Bloom, Jack Dolgen, Dan Gregor, “Chanukah Honey”

Holiday Sampler, December 26

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I can’t believe it’s been six years since The Maccabeats released their Hanukkah song, “Candlelight.”  I loved this group the instant I heard them.  I’m a sucker for a cappella to begin with, but these guys take it to another level with their humor and talent.  And so, on this third night of Hanukkah, let’s celebrate with a little throwback to their 2010 classic.

December 26: The Maccabeats, “Candlelight”

Holiday Sampler, December 25

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Even though neither have ever put out a Christmas album, I always associate the holidays with Sarah Harmer and Luther Wright because I love to attend the annual Holiday Rock Show they put on in Kingston, Ontario to benefit a variety of local charities. It’s always a festive good time and a great way to kick off the holidays.

And to kick off this Christmas day, I’m sharing Sarah and Luther’s lovely cover of “White Christmas.”  Best wishes to all my readers who celebrate; may the day bring you warmth and joy.

December 25: Sarah Harmer and Luther Wright, “White Christmas”

Holiday Sampler, December 24

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I’m not sure this song warrants much explanation.  It’s the Carpenters, it’s gorgeous (if a little sad), and, in my opinion, it’s pretty much the definitive Christmas Eve tune.

Merry Christmas Eve to all my readers who celebrate!

December 24: The Carpenters, “Merry Christmas, Darling”

Holiday Sampler, December 20

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It’s been a hard year.  Not just for me personally, but for the world in general.  For our country.  We’ve had surges in gun violence (specifically against African-Americans), surges in hate crimes.  We’re looking at a very frightening inauguration.  We’ve had to fight to keep oil companies from destroying our environment and the health and safety of our people.  And we’ve lost musical icons who were our heroes; they left us when we most needed them.

Even though some new horror dominates the news each day, Christmas should be a respite from the pain and fear and darkness.  Even if just for a day.  Even if just for a few hours spent with family or friends.  I’m pretty sure we’re all ready for a few moments of joy, no matter what holiday is being celebrated.

December 20: Queen, “Thank God It’s Christmas”

Christmas & Hanukkah Vinyl Collection

I love the holidays.  I love them so much that I vomit glitter at the stroke of midnight on Black Friday, and I don’t stop until New Year’s Day.  I usually struggle to wait until after Thanksgiving to start listening to Christmas music, and once it starts, it’s pretty much all I’m listening to until December 26th.  And I also spin the dreidel, so you can bet I’ve got a lot of Hanukkah tunes in heavy rotation as well.

I’ve been accumulating holiday music on CD for 25 years, but only in the past couple of years have I started adding to my holiday vinyl collection.  Over the past month, I’ve been highlighting a piece of that collection every day on Instagram, but I decided to make a quick video too.  If you’re interested in seeing my eclectic collection of merry-making tunes, check it out below.

Holiday Sampler, December 19

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Aimee Mann’s Christmas album, One More Drifter in the Snow, is one of my favorites.  It’s a nice antidote to the sicky-sweet holiday albums that the top 40 pop stars put out every year.  I would love a follow up to that album, but I was pleased when Aimee and Ted Leo (as The Both) released a new Christmas track last year.  Give ‘er a listen, eh?

December 19: The Both, “You’re a Gift”

Holiday Sampler, December 18

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One of my favorite Christmas albums is a compilation called A Merry 1940s Christmas.  It’s got such a great selection of songs not commonly heard, and it starts off with Kate Smith’s “A Merry American Christmas.”  I hadn’t heard the song before listening to this comp, but I fell in love with it immediately.

December 18: Kate Smith, “A Merry American Christmas”

Holiday Sampler, December 16

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Wham!  You either love them or hate them.  And you either love their song, “Last Christmas,” or you cringe when it comes on the radio.  I happen to fall into the first group, which is why I was excited to pick up the anniversary reissue of the single on red & green vinyl a few years ago.

If you’re with me, watch the video below.  And even if you hate the song, well, it’s probably already in your head so you might as well watch it anyway.

December 16: Wham!, “Last Christmas”