My 10 Favorite Christmas Songs
It’s hard to escape Christmas songs, especially with some radio stations choosing to play all-Christmas, all the time as early as November.
Could you pick 10 favorite Christmas songs? ‘Tis the season, after all. If I had to make a playlist (at least for 10 songs), here are the songs I’d choose first.
1. “Sleigh Ride”
This one is my favorite of all Christmas songs. I really prefer Leroy Anderson’s classic tune in the instrumental version, particularly if it’s recorded by orchestras like the Boston Pops. But if we’re talking about versions with lyrics, I would easily choose the rendition by Johnny Mathis.
2. “The Christmas Song”
I’ve never roasted chestnuts over an open fire, but when Nat King Cole’s 1961 recording of this Christmas classic begins playing, I’m ready to try.
3. “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”
Andy Williams recorded this Christmas song in 1963 for his first Christmas album. This was one of the songs that would prompt people to identify Williams as “Mr. Christmas.”
4. “My Little Drum”
This little tune, from the Vince Guaraldi Trio, whose music accompanied animated Peanuts specials for years, is one of the most beautiful and poignant pieces of music I’ve heard.
5. “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy”
If you tried to come up with two of the most unlikely musicians ever to sing a duet, you might be hard-pressed to come up with a combination more unusual than old-fashioned crooner Bing Crosby and British rocker David Bowie. Bowie was as “new-school” as Crosby was “old-school,” and their duet was recorded September 11, 1977, slightly more than a month before Crosby’s death. “The Little Drummer Boy,” of course, is a well-known Christmas song that was written in 1941; the “Peace on Earth” lyrics were added specifically for this special performance:
6. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
Rudolph first appeared in a 1939 coloring booklet written by Robert May and published by the Montgomery Ward department store. It would take 10 years for Johnnie Marks, May’s brother-in-law, to turn the booklet into a song. Gene Autry’s recording is probably the best-known.
7. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”
Darlene Love used to sing this hit every year on The Late Show with David Letterman until Letterman decided to retire. The holiday season has been missing something ever since.
8. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
This song made its debut in 1944’s Meet Me In St. Louis and is both sweet and somber at the same time.
9. “All I Want for Christmas is You”
This is the only song I can name that was popularized by Mariah Carey. That’s not to say I don’t like her work or that I won’t listen to her other songs if they’re playing; it’s just that this is the only song I associate with her name. But once you hear this song once, it’s stuck in your head until at least mid-January.
10. “Christmas is Coming”
If I had the ability and talent to play piano, this tune from A Charlie Brown Christmas would surely be a tune I’d want to play. The Vince Guaraldli Trio captures the energy and joy of the season in this one:
That’s my list. There are plenty of others I could have included. There are songs like “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and “This Christmas” that I also like, but they just didn’t make the top 10. My mom’s favorite Christmas song is “Mary, Did You Know?”