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My Favorite Christmas Recordings #12 Nat King Cole: The Christmas Song

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.

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The review on Amazon.com says the same thing I was going to say: The Christmas song (Chestnuts roasting on an open fire….) is one of the truly great Christmas songs of all time, rivaled by giant hits like White Christmas, I’ll Be Home For Christmas, and There’s No Place Like Home For The Holidays.  As I mentioned before, this recording–on vinyl–was an element of the foundation of my Christmas music collection and it a must own.  No debate.  Likewise, his cover of Oh Holy Night is so perfect, so reverent, it gives this avowed atheist shivers, if not spiritual ambitions.

The title song is magnificent, capturing the very essence of the season, and Cole’s version is the quintessential recording of it.  The only downside is, on newer versions, the inclusion of the deceased  singer’s ghoulish, computer-generated “duet” with young daughter Natalie.  Yech.

I still like this recording in vinyl–I’ve got the newest version, but it sounds like they’ve been monkeying around with it too much.  The tones are a little cold, and the song order is different–which is jarring but not ultimately damning.  Still, I’d recommend an earlier mix if you can find one, even (especially?) if it means missing the few “extras” added with the record company re-mastered the album

1. The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You) [1961 Version]
2. Deck the Hall
3. O Come All Ye Faithful
4. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
5. O Tannenbaum
6. O Little Town of Bethlehem
7. I Saw Three Ships
8. O Holy Night
9. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
10. A Cradle in Bethlehem
11. Away in a Manger
12. Joy to the World
13. The First Noel
14. Caroling, Caroling
15. Silent Night
16. Buon Natale (Means Merry Christmas to You) [*]
17. All I Want for Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth) [*]
18. The Happiest Christmas Tree [*]
19. The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You) [*]

By JunkChuck

Native, Militant Westsylvanian (the first last best place), laborer, gardener, and literary hobbyist (if by literary you mean "hack"). I've had a bunch of different blogs, probably four, due to a recurring compulsion to start over. This incarnation owes to a desire to dredge up the best entries of the worst little book of hand-scrawled poems I could ever dream of writing, salvageable excerpts from fiction both in progress and long-abandoned. and a smattering of whatever the hell seems to fit at any particular moment. At first blush, I was here just to focus on old, terrible verse, but I reserve the right to include...anything. Maybe everything, certainly my love of pulp novels, growing garlic, the Pittsburgh Steelers and howling at the moon--both figuratively and, on rare occasions, literally.

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