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”
Tomorrow at sundown is the start of Hanukkah. We’ll be frying up some latkes, and playing dreidel (with our cats) by the light of the electric menorah (cats are a danger around real candles; we once had a cat burn fur off her tail by whipping it through a flame). You don’t hear much Hanukkah music played on the radio, except for the classic songs that everyone knows. Even then, it’s just two songs out of thousands and thousands of Christmas tunes. So a few years ago, I hit up the Hanukkah station on Pandora and discovered the band The LeeVees. These guys are like Jewish Barenaked Ladies. Jewish Arrogant Worms (if you don’t know the Arrogant Worms, educate yo’ self). I immediately bought their album of hilarious Hanukkah songs. My favorite jam off that album is the one featured below. Enjoy!
If you know me, you know I love The Tragically Hip and Gord Downie. I couldn’t really let the holidays pass by without posting something Hip-related, eh? There is a great live recording out there of the Hip doing a kind of mash-up of “White Christmas” & “On The Verge,” but then I happened across Gord Downie’s “Christmastime in Toronto,” and well, that one seemed perfect.
It’s fitting, too, that I’m spending today in Kingston, Ontario — home of the Hip, and my favorite place in the world.
December 22: Gord Downie, “Christmastime in Toronto”
Christmas is almost here. Can you believe it? And Hanukkah’s right around the corner too. We’ve had our office holiday parties, we’re on vacation starting tomorrow, and we’re about to go celebrate the holidays with some incredibly awesome musicians. It’s getting downright festive this afternoon. And so…
December 21: Paul McCartney, “Wonderful Christmastime”
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.
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.
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?
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”