Bitter, cynical, and borderline misanthropic for most of the year, I reform for the holiday season and from mid-November to the last minute of Epiphany I’m all about the season. Readers of Old Road Apples will find themselves under a constant barrage of holiday fare this season–from themed essays to book reviews to a countdown of my very favorite Christmas recordings. You’ll note I’m beginning this a little early–that’s to give you a fare shake at picking up the top of the list .
Now That’s What I Call Christmas!
By the same logic that led me to list the previous entry, Now That’s What I Call Christmas is a fantastic building block for a Christmas music collection. It is another anthology, featuring 36 classic Christmas songs, often in legendary recordings of definitive versions interspersed with new interpretations by more contemporary performers. It is another album that you can pick up used for under a dollar. This entry was the first in a series, and in my opinion remains the best, with the proportion of classics in later volumes (there are at least 4, plus a “best of” record that is, oddly, a best of an anthology and a somewhat counter-intuitive choice in an age of digitalization) decreasing in later volumes–though all have their charms and, I presume, admirers.
An added bonus to these anthologies is that they reduce the “clutter” of a complete collection, especially a collection one may listen to only a few weeks out of each year. For example, while listening to Burl Ives croon “Have a holly jolly Christmas” is something we can hear every day between Thanksgiving and New Years with little cumulative effect, the entire Burl Ives Christmas collection–90 full minutes of the Burl-meister himself, might just be a little too much. On the other hand, this record can get just a little too bogged down by a few of the more modern songs–the Britney Spears and Gloria Estefan contributions are particularly insipid–but then, I’m definitely a swing guy when it comes to the holidays.
You should be able to click on the songlists to make them large enough to read.