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In the Mix - Holiday Music

Nov 27, 2016 12:50PM ● By Paul Cotruvo
I Have My Favorites. Do You?

We could not be more divided in this country. Wait, I’m not talking about the election (but we can all be thankful that it’s over). I am talking about the love or lack thereof for holiday music. Seems the pundits are split right down the middle. Is it “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” by Elmo & Patsy, “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby, or just shutting off the radio altogether?

Well, if you chose the latter, it may still be hard to escape. Yes, folks, it’s that time again when everywhere you go holiday music will become a part of your life. It will be piped in at shopping malls, department stores, gyms, and even the restroom. For me, this is the last place I need to “Hallelujah” while taking care of business. (And yes, this has happened to me.) Yes, friends, you may hear “Jingle Bells” played in every style of music possible: jazz, classical, rock, blues, country, spoken word, rap, heavy metal, and reggae. And let us not forget the infamous barking dogs version.

But don’t think for a minute that I hate holiday music; actually there are some amazing arrangements out there for the listening. I always tend to either go for some of the alternative versions or the old classics. So, if you are thinking about putting a playlist together for any upcoming parties, check these out.

1)     Right off the bat, you can never go wrong with “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Darlene Love. Rolling Stone magazine ranked this song number one on its list of the greatest rock and roll Christmas songs.

2)     Keeping with the somewhat traditional theme, Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas” would be my next choice. It’s Elvis at his best.

3)     My first choice for an alternative song is by the group My Morning Jacket, “Xmas Time is Here Again,” a very cool song written and sung by Jim James, the band’s lead singer.

4)     If you have a dysfunctional family, the ultimate song is none other than Robert Earl Keen’s “Merry Christmas From the Family.” Maybe not a politically correct tune, but funny, and you will be playing this over and over again.

5)     My next choice is by someone I never thought would release a Christmas album. Yes, Nobel Prize winning Bob Dylan released an album in 2009 called “Christmas in the Heart.” This album is not for the faint of heart. You will either love it or hate it. There is no middle ground here. But his version of “Must Be Santa” needs to be on your playlist – an up-tempo song the whole family will sing along with.

6)     My list would never be complete without a funky blues tune. Otis Redding’s version of “Merry Christmas Baby” is the best version out there. Although covered by many, this is the one for me.

7)     A song that always takes me back to my childhood and continues to be a favorite of mine is Bobby Helm’s “Jingle Bell Rock.” A classic for sure!

8)     “Celebrate Me Home” is a song written by Kenny Loggins, and he does have a nice version, but my favorite happens to be the Lady Antebellum version. Perfect harmonies.

9)     Next on the list is “Baby its Cold Outside.” Many have recorded this song over the years, but for my playlist I would choose the Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan version. Warming up some cocoa just thinking about this tune.

10)  And finally, I could not make any kind of list without including the Beatles. They recorded various Christmas records to their exclusive Beatle Fan Club as a thank you. These recordings are rare and hard to find, but their song “Christmas Time is Here Again” is rocking and hilarious. If you can find it, get it!

So, I guess I really do like holiday music! As I made this list, I started to think of a dozen or so more. Finally, I wish all of you a very happy holiday season. I look forward to seeing you out supporting local music in 2017!

Quote of the Month: “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”  ~ The Grinch

Paul’s Picks for December:
December 3: Caroompas Room, Armando’s, 707 Marina Vista, Martinez, 8pm
December 4: 8th Annual MMM Toy Drive, Armando’s, 707 Marina Vista, Martinez, 3pm
December 9: The Big Jangle, WiseGirl, 1932 Oak Park Blvd., Pleasant Hill, 9pm
December 10: Pete Escovedo Latin Jazz Ensemble, Armando’s, 707 Marina Vista, Martinez, 8pm
December 23: The Sunday Paper, Armando’s, 707 Marina Vista, Martinez, 8pm
December 29: The Buzztones, Rocco’s Pizzeria, 2909 Ygnacio Valley Rd., Walnut Creek, 8pm 
December 31: Lumberyard, Back 40, 100 Coggins Dr., Pleasant Hill, 7pm
December 31: Queens & Thieves, WiseGirl, 1932 Oak Park Blvd., Pleasant Hill, 9pm
December 31: Garageland Rodeo, Armando’s, 707 Marina Vista, Martinez, 8pm
December 31: Mad Karma, Dan’s Bar, 1524 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek, 10pm




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