Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Songs, 2009

It occurred to me that every year I seem to glom on to certain Christmas songs. I gravitate toward a new favorite every year and can't seem to get enough of it.

So here are my top picks for the last few years along with my unsolicited opinions. Be warned: I'll be discussing older singers and songs here. Sorry, but I have no desire to hear Jessica Simpson, SheDaisy or 69Boyz's interpretations of any of the following. (And it also can't help but occur to me that at this late date I have about a million other things I should be doing rather than writing down these opinions. Oh well. Christmas procrastination comes but once a year.)

A couple of years ago I was all about Santa Baby sung by Eartha Kitt. Who can't love her sexy delivery and the hilarious, blatant greed the lyrics espouse? Favorite: "Santa Baby I forgot to mention one little thing. A ring. I don't mean on the phone...."While I love everything about this song I would rather stick a pine needle in my eye than listen to Madonna's recent pouty, babydoll interpretation. I can't switch the radio station fast enough when this comes on. Madonna, the material girl? Please. Sorry Madge, you ain't got nothin' on Miss Kitt, the original material girl. Don't let go of that mink! Grrrr!

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But this year it's all about Nancy Wilson's That's What I Want for Christmas. Here we have the absolute antithesis of Santa Baby's gimme greed. "Anyone can wish for all the trinkets in the window. Some can even buy the things they see. But the presents that I want you'll never find in any window. Bring me love and bring it just for me." It's a wildly romantic song, musically perfect. I love how she effortlessly hits those high notes:

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A close runner up this year is Lena Horne's Jingle All the Way. Her joy and enthusiasm is infectious in this recording. She sounds like she's having the time of her life, and who wouldn't be with a band like that backing you up? It's my fantasy karaoke pick:

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Last year I was crazy about Dean Martin's Baby it's Cold Outside. What a great song! Synopsis: A lady friend has dropped in for a short visit with Dean but now she needs to get home. He tries to convince her to stay. For every excuse she voices why she needs to go he has a more compelling reason why she should stay. The interplay weaves back and forth as such:
She: My sister will be suspicious
He: Man your lips look delicious
Until finally she relents:
She: Well maybe just a half a drink more
He: Never such a blizzard before
Dean sells this song with a suave charm that's irresistible. Heck, I'd stay with him, nicotine stains, martini breath and all.
The original version is sometimes credited as a duet with Doris Day but if you listen closely you'll hear a soft chorus of female voices, not just one. While Dean carries this song wonderfully on his own this version lacks the intimacy and interplay of the one-on-one lyrics.

While I'm usually not a fan of modern singers caroling with the deceased I have to say I break from tradition here and endorse the newer version with Martina McBride singing opposite Dean. You can really hear her side of the song. It works:

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But whatever you do please don't picture Miss Mc Bride and Dean Martin together acting out this song in a modern music video. If you do the age difference suddenly turns the cozy banter into a decidedly creepy and inapropriate exchange. And Dean morphs into a lecherous old drunk determined to make this sweet young thing his latest victim:

She: "I ought to say no no no sir" He: "Mind if I move closer"
She: "The answer is no" He: Ooh darlin' it's cold outside

Hey! No means no, you jerk!


Clearly the only sensible course of action is for Martina to throw his drink in his face, knee him in the crotch and make a run for it, blizzard or no blizzard.

But please don't think about that. It kind of ruins the song and I'm sorry I brought it up.

And lastly, I know I won't be making any friends here espousing my dislike of Michael Buble. I'm not sure where my distaste originates but it has something to do with Sinatra. Sorry Michael, you're not Frank and you never will be. Get over it and move on with your life. Sing commercial jingles. Better yet learn how to play the piano, set your tip jar on top and park yourself in the corner of the lounge at the Holiday Inn near the airport. This is a more fitting use of your talents. Because every time I hear you I picture good old Nick Winters (or Summers, depending on the time of year):

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Thank you! Thankyouverymuch! I love you all! I'll be here all week!

Merry Christmas!


PS-Perhaps in a fit of musical rebellion my husband has recently become infatuated with The Ventures Christmas album. Don't miss their rendition of Sleigh Ride. Because if there's a musical style that glorifies the birth of our Lord and Saviour better than surf guitar I just don't know what it is..

3 comments:

Storybook Woods said...

Okay I was LOVING this list, till I got to the end. Now I am not sure we can be friends anymore ;-P xoxoxoxo Clarice

Kim Scott-Olson said...

Love your song collection!!! can't wait to see your face!

TroElli said...

Classic choices! A lady of discerning taste :) My favorite holiday song this year has been 'The Christmas Waltz'. Frank at his finest. And while it's a couple of decades jump, The Eagles' "Please Come Home For Christmas" always makes me think of you. I think you had it on tape when we were living in Wallingford and I remember one evening rewinding and listening to it at least a half dozen times. It's a good memory.. :) Hope you had a good holiday. I love you. Talk soon. <3 Dona