Music Monday Top 5: “Off-the-beaten-path” Christmas songs

As referenced on The Macaulay Vlog, I love Christmas music. Even though I’m Jewish, songs about the holiday – along with songs about winter in general – are a nice addition to what is usually a miserably cold season. That said, I often get tired of the usual Christmas music fare and want a song that doesn’t get much airplay. Like these ones:

5. David Bowie and Bing Crosby, “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth”

Okay, so this one is pretty damn well-known, but I’m including it here anyway, ’cause it’s a wholly different arrangement to “Little Drummer Boy.” The story (according to a post today in mental_floss), is that David Bowie decided at the last minute that he couldn’t stand the song, and asked if there was anything else he could sing. Hence, the “Peace on Earth” part of the song, which is absolutely brilliant when put together with Bing Crosby. (Another great bit: John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell did a shot-by-shot remake of it.)

4. Sufjan Stevens, “That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!”

Now, this seemed to me like probably one of the strangest juxtapositions ever – indie rock musician Sufjan Stevens (also, the only person I’ve heard of whose name is Sufjan) – but apparently, he’s been doing Christmas albums for years as gifts to friends and family; these EPs were released as a box-set, Songs for Christmas, in 2006. This one, however, is one of the few I’ve heard,  and much in the style of Weird Al’s “The Night Santa Went Crazy,” which just missed the list, it’s a really great dig on the whole Christmas music scene, with nice music surrounded by really, really morose lyrics (including Stevens’s dad putting gifts into the stove).

3. Tom Waits, “Silent Night/Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis”

It should be noted that Tom Waits, despite quite a few covers of his songs reaching radio play (“Downtown Train,” notably), always seems a little crazy to me. (For more information, see “Chocolate Jesus”.) This song is no exception. It’s strange, rambling, and full of dark comedy. I always love when he sings about the “used car lot”, and how the song’s speaker, the eponymous hooker in Minneapolis, “would drive a different car every day.”

2. Lou Monte, “Dominick the Donkey”

This one seems to be a regional favorite, especially in New York, what with our sizeable and historically present Italian population (of which I am a member). Yes, it’s silly, it’s quirky, and that’s why I love it – who wouldn’t want to hear about a donkey who helps Santa get through the foothills of Italy?

But the #1 favorite song isn’t a Christmas song at all, but a winter song, as it’s…

1. Glasvegas, “A Snowflake Fell (And It Felt Like a Kiss)”

Oh, Glasvegas. Between their really great debut album and their prevalent Glaswegian accents, they’re pretty great in my book. This song is no exception – complete with bells throughout the song, James Allan’s vocals and piano-driven music is sublime. This song is on my iPod year-round, but it’s great when it comes up around this time – its mere presence warms you up while out in the cold.

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