Hey! You Know Stuff!

Dearest Invisible Internet Friends, my holiday music collection is tired.

I love the music I have, but I need more stuff. Stuff that doesn't suck. (The stuff I have doesn't suck, I've just heard it all SO MANY TIMES.)

I will now tell you my favorites, as long as you promise not to laugh:
- Bing Crosby (the one featuring the Andrews Sisters)
- Stevie Wonder (so awesome)
- Every album produced by Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma from about 1998-2000 (oldies, but only selected songs)
- The first Harry Connick holiday album
- Mariah Carey
- The first Babs holiday album

And a few instrumental CDs I've collected over the years, including a handful of "Big Band" Christmas albums and...um...an entire album of only dulcimer music.

Now, I'm gonna have to go ahead and assume you are unfamiliar with the dulcimer, and the unique tones it produces when you strum it with help from a small wooden stick. You're also probably unaware that the dulcimer is the only musical instrument native to the US, and that its strings are fashioned to sound something like bagpipes.

It's kind of a long story why I know this. But I will tell you that once, a very long time ago, my friend Emily and I both took up the dulcimer for about 13 1/2 seconds. After which we discovered that the dulcimer also looks kinda nice hanging on a wall.


I need new songs and new albums. I honestly don't think I own any music that's come out in the last five years (maybe more, I'm losing count) except some dance-music remixes that I heard them playing in Old Navy.



  1. James Taylors Christmas album is one of my most favorites.

  2. Well, maybe it won't count since it's not an album and it's not explicitly Christmas, but Leon Redbone and Zooey Deschanel's version of "Baby It's Cold Outside" always makes me feel like being by the fire gazing at a Christmas tree.

  3. I love the CD "December" by George Winston (piano solos, very lovely). I second Amanda's recommendation, too - that's one of my favorite scenes in "Elf"! I think that soundtrack might be my new Christmas must-have this year!

    And 'round my house, it's not Christmas without John Denver and the Muppets and the soundtrack from A Charlie Brown Christmas.

    I also really do love Willie Nelson's Pretty Paper, although he sounds like a billy goat on several of the songs, which some people like...and some people don't.

    Happy Holidays!!

    Moxy Jane
    Austin, TX

  4. "A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector"

    "Sleigh Ride" and "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" are absolute knockouts. The rest is merely great.

  5. Sarah Mclaughlin and Diana Krall have nice christmas albums. I'm crazy about Over the Rhine's Snow Angels, but I'm not sure you would like it since it doesn't really fit in with your previous list.

  6. My very favortites are A Very Special Christmas, the 1990 edition with the red cover and A Swingin' Christmas by Tony Bennett. My daughter just discovered Michael Buble and loved the Let It Snow album.

  7. I like the Barenaked Ladies "Barenaked for the Holidays" album. It has some new songs, some old songs, and a version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" that I play all year long. Really.

  8. Because my mother would put it on every year when we decorated the tree, Johnny Mathis's Christmas album is the only way I can get into the holiday mood.

    Also, Alan Jackson's Christmas album is very good, if you like country styling.

  9. i know the dulcimer too and mine is also now hanging on the wall. It sure looks purty :) but i'm gonna get back to it one day, they really do sound nice and are easy to play.

  10. You should stock up on all the Very Special Christmas albums. They're all various artists and songs. For something different listen to the Jimmy Buffet Christmas album. Linda Eder's album is great, too!

  11. A Very Special Christmas... 1, 2, 3... 4 sort of. After that they just got weird and lame.

  12. Umm.. I don't see the New Kids on the Block Christmas Album. Ha.

    Add Ella Fitzgerald/Louis Armstrong to your list. But last year, I found that making a Pandora xmas playlist with some of the stuff I love actually introduced me to some great new (to me) songs.

    yey Christmas!

  13. Nothing wrong with the old classics! I personally LOVE the Lawrence Welk Christmas albums.

  14. Nat King Cole's Christmas music is still awesome after all these years. Sarah McLachlan has some good stuff, and I'm a little embarrassed to admit I like the Carpenters Christmas album.

  15. Rick Springfield did a Christmas record last year called "Christmas with You" its mostly older more traditional songs, and one he wrote for the Troops, and a cool Beach Boys inspired "Deck the Halls." I believe that Target is releasing it this year.

  16. Every year the Detroit indy record label Suburban Sprawl puts out a free Christmas compilation with original holiday songs by local artists. They've been doing it since 2002, and though hardly traditional a lot of the songs are great and definitely in the cheerful, holiday spirit. You can find MP3s of all six years' worth here:


  17. "A Charlie Brown Christmas" album by Vince Guaraldi Trio... it's tough to get sick of. :) But I was having the same problem with the rest of my 'awesome' holiday music too, and your list already gave me some new ideas - thanks!

  18. Kristi, no Christmas is complete without the Alvin and the Chipmunks CD and the recorded "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." Also, I'd recommend the Johnny Mathis xmas CD--his smooth voice can soothe anyone's soul during the Christmas frenzy!

  19. I love themed playlists, so sorry if this is long but I have to share some of my favorites from last year's playlist that haven't been mentioned (even though I have a rule against Christmas music pre-Thanksgiving):
    Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), Death Cab for Cutie
    Christmastime is Here, Jars of Clay
    Last Christmas, Wham!
    Santa Baby, Rev Run & The Christmas Allstars
    Baby, It's Cold Outside (Mulato Beat Remix), Louis Armstrong
    I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm (Stuhr remix), Kay Starr
    River, Herbie Hancock
    Let It Snow, Chris Isaak

    In addition, Low has a wonderful album called Christmas.

    And I really like the OC (yes, as in the Fox TV show) Christmas soundtrack.

    Both A Dave Brubeck Christmas and An Oscar Peterson Christmas are great albums of jazz piano Christmas favorites.

    And Diana Krall has a great Christmas compilation as well.

  20. I can second "Barenaked for the Holidays." It also has a handful of good Hanukkah songs, and some goofy original ones such as "Elf's Lament."

    I also like Jimmy Buffett's Christmas Island, which has a Hawaii'an Christmas song, among others.

    And if you're into tasteless humor, Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics (from South Park) is fun, but you can't really listen to it around kids.

    These suggestions would at least be different, if that's what you're looking for.

  21. Luther Vandross is my absolute favorite....mixed with a bit of Amy Grant and if I'm feeling really nostalgic....I'll turn on an old Charlie Pride album of my mother's.

  22. Also love the Barenaked Ladies holiday CD the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas!

    I'll chime in with the Lou Rawls CD "Christmas will be Christmas." It has a great version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" that doesn't make me want to kill myself (unlike the Judy Garland version, great googly).

  23. Sufjan Stevens' Songs for Christmas Singalong -- it's five cds he made from 2001 through 2006. Some are his songs and some are classics. The lyrics and chords and other things are in a little songbook. PLUS! You get stickers.


  24. I have two suggestions for you.

    Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton Christmas Album - an oldy but a classic around our house at the holidays.

    A Canadian Treasure and a beautiful Christmas Album by Rita MacNeil. Truly lovely. If you are downloading, the best song on there is called "The Holly and the Ivy".

    Enjoy! and Happy Holidays!

  25. I agree whole-heartedly with Soul-Fusion's list...

    Also, this just came out and I love it:

    This Warm December: Brushfire Holiday's Vol. 1

    Jack Johnson & crew singing holiday tunes...oh so good!

  26. This is a little obscure, but I really love October Project's take on Angels We Have Heard on High and Silent Night. Especially Silent Night. I had gotten rather bored with that song until I heard their version - I love the way it picks up on the second verse. The downside is those songs are only available as singles.

    I also love most versions of traditional carols that have been done by Sixpence None the Richer or Leigh Nash. Particularly It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.

  27. Maybe this Christmas
    Maybe This Christmas, Too
    Maybe this Christmas Tree.

    I love them and all Canadians. :D

  28. I also like the Chris Isaak Christmas album. (I have both of these and can burn them for you if you like.)

  29. 1. Ella Fitzgerald's Christmas album
    2. "Angels on High" Robert Shaw Christmas album (it's a classical music choral album, and it's LOVELY)
    3. The Waverly Consort Christmas album - you will LOVE this if you like the dulcimer music
    4. Chanticleer's "Sing We Christmas"

    If you can't find any of these, drop me an email. From one San Franciscan to another, I'm delighted to trade!

  30. trans siberian orchestra's Christmas/ Sarajevo 12/24

  31. I know this might make you cringe at first but this is an album that is not just Christmas but a celebration of the end of the year and new beginnings. It is Gloria Estefan (I Know)and it is all in Spanish. It's called Abriendo Puertas (Opening Doors)

    and I second..or third the October Project suggestion. Their voices are beautiful.

  32. Hello from another closet dulcimer player!

    I second the Nat King Cole recommendation. Also, the semi-insane acoustic guitarist John Fahey has an album called "Christmas Guitar" of cool arrangements of traditional songs. Perfect low-key background! Also, "Christmas with Watson and Edge" is a mellow violin and guitar duo.

    All of these are on iTunes if you want to hear samples.

  33. Man, I was all excited at first thinking I'd have all sorts of recommendations ... and then I re-read and realized you're looking for holiday music. Since I'm a scrouge, I guess I can't help. :)

  34. I second Julie's suggestion of Trans-Siberian Orchestra - - they are awesome!

    Also, Christine Aguilera does a version of "Merry Christmas, Baby" with Dr. John, on her "My Kind of Christmas" CD that is amazing.

    We also own quite a bit of Mannheim Steamroller Christmas CD's.

    AND, of course, for the "twisted" side of Christmas music, there is always Bobby Rivers "Twisted Christmas" CD's - - always good for a laugh.

    Luvs me some Christmas . . . :-)

  35. Aretha Franklin has a christmas album out exclusive to Borders.

    I'm currently listening to Lorena McKennit's "A Midwinter's Night Dream" and I like it a lot.

    Medieval Babes also has a holiday album I listen to each year, but I've noted it's not everyone's thing :)

  36. Thinking outside the box:

    A Twisted Christmas, by Twisted Sister


  37. There is an album called "Christmas Songs' (generic, I know) - but it has a bunch of different artists on it (Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Dido, and lots of other random people) and it is probably my favorite christmas album. And trust me, I am a HUGE fan of Chrsitmas music!


  38. i second the charlie brown christmas and jimmy buffett albums. my other xmas fave is a bing crosby, nat cole, and dean martin mix that i picked up at fred meyer. if you can find a place to download it - there's a fun song from the 90's called all i wanted was a skateboard http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RoJsJY9Qj8

  39. I believe that the banjo and the movie theater organ are native to America.

    I can't think about Christmas albums until I get through Thanksgiving!

  40. My mom always played vinyl records by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, nonstop, from early December to January sixth. I still love it. Also, some years ago (like fifteen,) she brought home a cassette by the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus. Loved that, too. I don't know if you can find any of these on CDs, but if you want to go traditional, you can't go wrong with Mormons or gay dudes (though I might not want to invite the Mormons to Christmas dinner).

  41. A Classic Cartoon Christmas. You know all of the other ones I would suggest, and I don't think you want them

  42. Papa Noel by Brenda Lee. best christmas song. ever. no kidding.

  43. Dean Martin Making Spirits Bright. You also can never go wrong with Twisted Sister Twisted Christmas... \m/

  44. Charlie Brown is a classic. I also love the Three Tenors Christmas album (Jose Carreras trying to sing in english is pretty funny). My "growing up to" album was the Barbra Striesand one. Try also Nat King Cole's "Christmas for Kids" - truely a great one, and for the hipster in you, "Tis the Season For..." by Los Straijackets. Has the jauntiest surf version of Rudolph you'll ever hear!

    Have fun!

  45. This is fun for parties: Merry Mixmas (http://www.amazon.com/Merry-Mixmas-Various-Artists/dp/B000B66PR0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1227384224&sr=1-1)

    I make xmas mixes for family and friends every year. You can find the song lists on my site if you're interested(http://artemiswinter.livejournal.com/458307.html, http://artemiswinter.livejournal.com/387033.html, http://artemiswinter.livejournal.com/304517.html) - I tracked down the songs via hypemachine (http://hypem.com/), mostly, by searching for holiday-ish keywords. But if you'd like, I could burn you copies, I think I still have all the songs. Email me and I'd be happy to send you some discs. :)

  46. By far, not a new song, but Fairytale of New York by the Pogues. LOVE. But maybe not Christmas party music, unless you're at my house.

  47. My fave Chirstmas song: Christmas Kiss by Erin O'Donnell... she's a Christina artist... which I am not a huge fan that "style"... but this song - so cute. her voice. Gorgeous. It's jazzy, fun, upbeat...

  48. I haven't read any of your comments so forgive me if I am redundant but I would recommend:

    Diana Krall, Christmas Songs
    Mindy Smith, My Holiday

    And I really want this: http://www.hotelcafe.com/wintersongs/

    Hotel Cafe always has awesome artists.

  49. I thought holiday music collections were supposed to be old and tired. Mine includes Julie Andrews, Nat King Cole and Johnny Mathis. It's the stuff my parents listened to when I was growing up and I still like it best.

  50. I'm Jewish, but these are the songs I have:

    Arab Strap-Xmas (Baby, Please Come Home)
    Dave Matthews Band-Christmas Song
    Smokey Robinson-Christmas Everyday
    Sixpence None the Richer-It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

  51. xmas songs?
    sorry... me not really x-mas sort og guy... :)

  52. Besides the Vince Guaraldi Trio, I'm partial to The King, myself.

    Elvis Presley's "If Every Day Was Like Christmas" is pretty darn awesome.

    If I were buying some new stuff for myself, I'd get the "Songs for Christmas" box set by Sufjan Stevens.

  53. I have to second the mention above of Bare Naked Ladies (& Sarah McLachlan) doing "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." It might be one of my favorite songs ever.

    Also, Charlie Brown Christmas always gets me in the mood, and last year I bought a CD from Starbucks call Stockings by the Fire which I LOVE. It has Rufus Wainwright, Frank Sinatra, Jack Johnson, Aimee Mann and anyone else who's awesome. I highly recommend it.

  54. Several people have recommended the BNL Christmas album and I just have to disagree. We're big fans, just not of that album. Very blah IMO.

    The Very Special Christmas albums 1, 2 and 3 are our all time favorites. Tevin Campbell's version of O Holy Night (2) is just gorgeous. One listen is never enough.

    Thanks Hope -- Stockings by the Fire sounds great! I'll have to check it out. :)

  55. My favorite Christmas album is the Sesame Street Christmas album. And yes, I am 28 years old. I still love it.

  56. I like to use iTunes and make my own mixes. Louis Armstrong's "Baby, It's Cold Outside" is cute. Whitney Houston's "Joy to the World" from the Preacher's Wife. Bruce Springsteen's "Santa Clause is Coming to Town." Josh Grobin's "Silent Night." Nat King Cole, Natalie Cole and Vanessa Williams are good too.

    If you like powerful voices, Linda Eder's holiday album is beautiful. And for classics, I like The Osmonds, Perry Como and Ella.

  57. The only holiday song I like is Adam Sandler's Hannukah Song. :P

  58. Not related to this posting:

    Y'know, I like to avoid your blog for a whole month, or two if I can stand it, so that when I come back, I'm washed under by a tidal wave of Kristy-ness. I hate staying away, and the anticipation of reading you nearly kills me, but there's nothing better than returning to a verbal ton of your writing. It's almost as good as being able to roll around in it. (Not in any kind of creepy way, I swear.) It's like finding out there's a sequel to your favorite book. (Yeah, that sounds better.) So thanks for that.

  59. If you like latin flavored music there is a really good album by Sugo Music of instrumental xmas songs and it's one of my faves. And, Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas really can't be beat. I ADORE Christmas music and I have a holiday playlist in Rhapsody that is about 24 hours long.

  60. I just got these two and like them a lot. I like dulcimer music, but think it would be hard to play.

    Sarah Brightman's new Winter Symphony Album
    and this one

    Hope it helps.

  61. This isn't necessarily holiday music but Wynton and Ellis Marsalis have an album called Joe Cool's Blues and it's music from Charlie Brown and makes me think of the Charlie Brown Christmas Special.

  62. Okay, okay, but only because Christmas music is near and dear to my heart.

    Vince Guaraldi - Charlie Brown Christmas
    Celtic Christmas -- any of them really
    Harry Simeone Chorale -- Little Drummer Boy; this is really old school
    Celtic Women -- A Christmas Celebration; they just sound so damn happy
    Amy Grant - A Christmas Album; God, Christmas, they just go together
    Home Alone Soundtrack -- What's better than being home by yourself on Christmas and beating the bad guys?!

  63. STEPHEN COLBERT'S CHRISTMAS SONGS! From his DVD release this year. They are really good! And funny, but kind of sweet, too. Really good!

  64. Any album by Amy Grant is an instant Christmas classic (okay, her first one might ring a little cheesy now). Michael W. Smith has a mostly-instrumental album that still wows me every year. I think it's called "This Christmas." A-MA-ZING.

  65. Definitely "Baby It's Cold Outside" - although I honestly can't remember if it's the Rathbone version I like or a different one...I guess I'm in the 'classics' camp, too. Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett. I do love "Christmas Wrapping" by the Waitresses, though!

  66. Very familiar with the conundrum: great music is a "red queen" race, a constant struggle of renewal. Like hard drugs but cheaper. Two sources I've found very productive for finding a brand new fix:

    1. Online radio stations. I find great stuff all the time at RadioParadise.com, CBC Radio 3, and Acoustic Pie. But if (as likely) none of these strike your chord then SEARCH FOR A STATION THAT DOES, e.g. at SHOUTCAST.

    2. Myspace *comment* links. Look for musicians to comment on the blogs of — and about — other musicians. This is how I found Nefrit El-Or and Marie Moreshead and Of The Isles, all tremendously good finds, and each good for some heavy doses of musical magic.

    FM radio is too small a venue for finding great new music, it's a much harder task now. The great news is there is MUCH more great music now than ever before.

    Music Producer in 2008 is everyone's job.

  67. Is your hammered dulcimer disc called "These Winter Joys"?

    If not, then that's a Christmas disc I'd definitely recommend – it's great fun. The performers are Tina Bergmann and Bryan Thomas and you can find it here:

  68. Since you like acapella (hope I didn't miss this suggestion in the comments above) a friend recently introduced me to this group --

    Straight No Chaser, check out their version of 12 days of Christmas! Available on youtube and iTunes plus the SNC web site.

    Have fun,

  69. I downloaded "The Hotel Cafe Presents Winter Songs" from iTunes the other day and I love it!

  70. Caroline,

    So did I! I have some new favorites from that album now. :)


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