A Dozen Wonderful Christmas Recordings You Probably Haven’t Heard!
As a special holiday treat, I’ve picked out 12 recordings from the big list of seldom-heard Christmas recordings that Lynn and I think are truly amazing (see: The 12 Lists of Christmas), and I’ve found links for them on the Web. You can just click on the links provided below to hear the tracks on your computer or phone! (One or two of them have an ad you have to get past before the song plays.) I’ve provided brief descriptions here so you can just pick those that sound appealing to you. Crank up and enjoy!
- Do You Hear What I Hear (Linda Eder) An awesome, hard-driving version of this song featuring African drums and other instruments with a gospel choir and powerhouse vocal by Ms. Eder, who happens to be Barbara Streisand’s sister. (Apparently, powerful pipes run in the family!) This is my favorite version of one of my favorite carols.
- Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas! (Boston Pops) A John Williams creation, this time from the soundtrack of Home Alone 2. A rousing celebration of the joy of Christmas with full choir and orchestra!
- O Holy Night (Trombone Shorty and other New Orleans Musicians, post-Hurricane Katrina. Arranged for a horn choir, with some strings in the background later in the song.). This was recorded for the Christmas episode of the TV series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip in 2006. It gets my vote for the most gorgeous and moving Christmas recording ever made. The arrangement is so emotional and heartfelt it brings me to tears every time I listen to it.
- Christmas in the Trenches (John McCutcheon) This song tells the story of the Christmas truce that took place during World War I when the soldiers started singing on Christmas Eve and stopped fighting. A powerful statement about the hypocrisy and futility of war.
- Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy (arranged for bicycle!) (Flip Baber) This definitely wins the award for most unusual arrangement of a Christmas classic ever recorded!
- To Be With You (Sara Groves) Absolutely heart-wrenching song about the beauty of being with family at Christmas.
- Star of Bethlehem (Boston Pops Orchestra) Written by John Williams for orchestra and chorus. From the soundtrack of the movie Home Alone. Uplifting and scary at the same time!
- Mr. Santa (Suzy Boguss) A parody of the 1950s song Mr. Sandman. Others have recorded this, but Suzy’s version is the most awesome by a mile!
- Mary’s Little Boy Child/O Holy Night (Vanessa Williams) One of the most gorgeous Christmas recordings ever, including the wonderful “Mary’s Little Boy Child” that was a hit in the 50s and then disappeared. Absolutely beautiful in every way.
- Happy Holiday/The Holiday Season (Manhattan Transfer) Four-part jazz singing with orchestra, by one of the greatest acappella groups ever. Old-fashioned, but spectacular and high energy!!
- Il Est Ne (He is Born) (Michael Gettel) Like a spectacular Christmas tree full of lights—only its music! Absolutely gorgeous.
- Sleep Well Little Children/Wonderful World (Kristen Chenoweth) Another blending of two gorgeous songs, with orchestra. Just wonderful.
Merry Christmas from Chris (and Lynn)!!