One of the fun things I used to do every holiday season at the Gazette-Times was write about holiday music. That tradition took an unexpected year off last December, if you know what I mean, but the time has come to revisit it.
Specifically, every December, I would ask readers to suggest nominations to be honored in a fictional creation, a Holiday Music Hall of Fame. The idea here is to spotlight individual performances of a particular holiday song that are so definitive that it should be illegal for anyone else to ever record that song again. (Bowing to First Amendment concerns, I would allow musicians to perform these songs in concert — and also, let’s face it, it will be so nice to go to live concerts again that I almost won’t care what’s being played on stage.)
Since I started the Holiday Music Hall of Fame, 11 songs have been inducted into this hallowed space; four other songs have earned honorary status. (Here’s the link to a Spotify playlist featuring all 15 songs and two bonus tracks I’ll mention later: Click on the link and enjoy).
Here’s my challenge to you: Send me your nominations for inclusion into the Hall of Fame. I’ll sort through your nominations and, later in the month, will unveil those tracks that I have selected to be enshrined. (I’ll list all the songs that were nominated and will create another Spotify playlist, in addition to a bonus list of new Christmas recordings released this year that caught my ear.)
A word of warning: Some of you will disagree with the songs that will be selected. There will be bitter recriminations, rending of garments, gnashing of teeth. To those complainers, I will say this: Tough. Start your own Holiday Music Hall of Fame.
As for me this year so far, I’m leaning toward tracks that are fun and joyous, because this year in particular seems to be crying out for fun and joy. So, is this the year, for example, that I finally decide that Diana Krall’s “Jingle Bells” is the definitive version? (I’ve included it in the Spotify list; you can judge.) Is Louis Prima’s “What Will Santa Claus Say (When He Finds Everybody Swingin’)?” a piece of timeless holiday ham – or a mere slice of overripe cheese? (Again, judge for yourself.)
It’s simple to nominate a song: Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you’re struggling to get into the holiday spirit, consider these timeless words of advice — the entire second verse of “What Will Santa Claus Say:”
Down the chimney, he will come
Ebba dum din ebba dum de dayh
Da da da bribba dau dahhh
Ba ba bad um de boom boom
I couldn’t say it any better.
Here are the songs that have been enshrined in Holiday Music Hall of Fame to date:
• Darlene Love, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”
• Elvis Presley, “Blue Christmas”
• Nat King Cole, “The Christmas Song”
• Bing Crosby, “White Christmas” (with honorable mentions going to the covers by Otis Redding and The Platters)
• Eartha Kitt, “Santa Baby”
• The Beach Boys, “Little Saint Nick”
• Judy Garland, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
• Brenda Lee, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”
• Charles Brown, “Merry Christmas Baby”
• Tyler Ravenscroft, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”
• Vince Guaraldi Trio, “Christmas Time is Here”
• Two tracks — Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and the Crosby-David Bowie duet on “The Little Drummer Boy” — also have earned honorary status.
(Mike McInally is a contributor to the Philomath News and writes an occasional column. He can be reached at email@example.com).