Friday, December 10, 2010

NathanC Helps You Pick Out Your Holiday Tunes

We have a brief window here for enjoying the sights and sounds of the Holidays. A while back at our links site I mentioned a list of Christmas music suggestions I'd seen at the always-trustworthy Pop Culture Safari.

Click here to visit that list.

Do not proceed until you've read the column.

Okay? Okay.

A lot of good stuff in there.  I just don't think its Christmas without the Phil Spector Christmas album.  Spector may have gone bonkers, but:  (a) he knew how to get a great sound (b) he knew talent (c) he knew how to cut a Christmas album and (c)  The Ronnettes. 

I have many trusted sources when it comes to music, but I figured that I should look to one of our specialists in such matters. Already Mrshl weighed in with recommendations for the Holidays from Sufjan Stevens and Low.

Corpsman NathanC is very knowledgeable about music of many genres, loves Christmas, and, honestly, works in radio. So while you may like your stuff... let's give Nathan a little benefit of the doubt. Man has paid his dues.

Nathan and I had an email correspondence over a few days, and Nathan's end went like this:

Nathan: Okay, so I finally got around to checking out that list. Man, I can find no fault in *any* of those Christmas music picks on the blogger's "main list." My top choices are the Phil Spector album, which captures the essence of Christmas in the big city. It feels very modern and classic at the same time. I have the Wynton Marsalis album, and can attest that it is a swingin' affair. Much better than an album of Wynton's original compositions (sorry Wynton), which I find to be too often academic.

(The League says: I don't think this is on the album, but diva Kathleen Battle does Christmas with Marsalis and Co., and its worth a listen)

Of all the modern crooner/swinging Christmas records, my favorite has been Diana Krall's "Christmas Songs" from a few years ago. The arrangements are terrific. And I fall in love with her when her voice cracks during "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?"

I don't know that I can add more to what this fella says about the albums, other than to recommend a "buy" on the Spector, Presley, Guaraldi and Sinatra albums. Must-have for ANY Christmas collection. As for the Chipmunks, you'll be okay with the one song. And buy Diana Krall's CD.

(The League Says: Elvis Costello is a wise man.)


Re: Bob Dylan's "Christmas In the Heart":

Far from the "What the hell?" reaction most people had to this album, I felt Bob Dylan's choice to release a Christmas album to be inspired. Dylan's voice has always been unique, but since "Time Out of Mind," it's lowered into a grizzled drawl. His past few albums have been somewhat inspired by old-timey and regional music (note Dylan's favored Col. Sanders suit and tie, too), and so I feel his present demeanor and style fits within the context of a Christmas record. The arrangements on Christmas in the Heart only amplify the fireside feel. It's like your kind uncle full of eggnog singing.

(The League Says: Here's some of that album!)

By the way, those Christmas song compilations that Target puts out ("Jingle Bell Rock," "A Traditional Christmas, Vol. 1," etc.) every year are great. I always pick some up for half-off after Christmas.

Was Nat King Cole on that guy's list? If not, for shame!!!!

Who are my favorite Christmas song interpreters of all time?

In no particular order:

Nat King Cole
Frank Sinatra
Doris Day
Ella Fitzgerald
Diana Krall
Elvis Presley

(The League Says: For The King, we post video. Respect.)

My favorite Christmas song? Of course, it's Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song." It doesn't order you to deck the halls, to jingle bells, or anything like that. It just reminisces about the many sights, sounds, and smells of the season, and wishes you a Merry Christmas. Which is what we all want, isn't it?

(The League says: We agree that this is absolutely top notch. Here's The Velvet Fog himself)

And Finally:

The Beatles Christmas recordings are charming if you're a big fan of the group. But after 1965's record, they start to get very, very zany, and work better if you're under the influence.

The reviewer used the word "melancholy" to describe "Christmas Time is Here" by Vince Guaraldi. To quote The Princess Bride, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

And I just checked his list again. He *did* skip Nat King Cole! Heresy!

The League Says:

We've got our own favorites and we'll be back with them soon!


rhpt said...

I can't believe this didn't make your list:

The League said...

Well, this is Nathan's list. I can't explain what he chose to include or not include.

Also, that's disturbing/ hilarious.

Nathan said...

Man, I love that video for "Must Be Santa." Insanity!