Friday, December 20, 2019

12 Days of Christmas Day 8 - Music

When I was 19, I worked as a seasonal employee at Kay-Bee Toys. It was my first official job (I had only worked for my mom's office cleaning company up to that point) and it was a fun experience. However, we had to listen to the same Christmas songs over and over and over again. All day. Every day. For six weeks. Some of them were pretty standard, while others were just different enough to get stuck in my head 20 years later. 

My brother in-law and his group of friends had a tradition of making each other mix CDs for Christmas, with a track list based on certain criteria such as "A song with a color in the title", "An Elvis song", "A song from a movie", and so on. He passed this tradition on to the family, and we exchanged mix CDs for a few years - until YouTube came along and made us all lazy.

I have to admit I rarely listened to their CDs. The fun was in making the mix for everyone else. There were a few bands my wife's sister and nieces like that I either liked already or got into because of them - and there are a couple killer tracks on the CDs scanned above.

That said, their musical gift-giving pales in comparison to my lifelong friends. Sometimes we made each other mix CDs, and sometimes we bought proper albums to gift each other. Often I had never even heard of the bands that John or Joe recommended. Most of them were from Scandinavia - which might explain why they always put me in a wintry mood. Here are some of my favorites:

Mew is a band from Denmark that I listened to a lot in college. One semester in particular started in January. I crushed pretty hard on a girl that was way out of my league but much closer in physical proximity (she sat in the row next to me.)

This track always brings back memories of walking home in the snow with that gorgeous girl on my mind.

They also have a song called "She Came Home For Christmas" that's just about the saddest thing ever. (okay maybe not, but it is very emotional.)

I may have mentioned Kent before; they're a Swedish band that I started listening to in the late 1990s (I think they've broken up recently?) This was one song my wife liked a lot when we first started dating. The English lyrics aren't super brilliant, but the music is absolutely beautiful. compares Kent to Coldplay and Muse - which explains why I was such a fan.

If you want to hear a wintry Nordic song in the original dialect, here's Iceland's Sigur Ros:

Not to sound all "Bah Humbug" but I don't really have a favorite Christmas carol and I'm indifferent about the holiday standards. The only festive music I enjoyed listening to came from Trans-Siberian Orchestra CDs that I bought Mom as a Christmas gift. 

I'll have to see if she still has this CD so we can listen to it when I come home for (almost) Christmas this weekend.

Do you have a favorite holiday song? Or a favorite non-holiday winter song?

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!



  1. Again, older, so I come from the mixed tapes world. Yeah, everybody made mixed tapes, they were everywhere. I still have many of the ones I made (including Christmas ones) and ones people made for me (a co-worker's Tragically Hip mixed tape among others).

    I like Christmas music a lot and just about all of it, from carols to the Percy Faith orchestra/Ray Conniff singers band era to new wave '80s stuff to even some current tunes. Can't say I have a favorite though. It changes year to year.

  2. Carol of the bells is my favorite Christmas song. I got something totally out of the ordinary for me at the library and have been really enjoying listening to it this year - the Glee Christmas album. I heard their version of "Last Christmas" on the radio and liked it, turns out I like their other stuff too.

    1. Wasn’t Melissa Benoist in Glee? I may have to check that out...

  3. Greensleeves
    Pete's Dad
    Let Me Sleep (It's Christmas Time)
    Walking in the Air
    Christmastime Is Here
    Christmas in Hollis
    Just Like Christmas

    1. Christmas in Hollis is a good one! I’ll have to play that this week.

  4. My favorites include the Burl Ives version of "Holly Jolly Christmas" , "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings" by Barenaked Ladies featuring Sarah McLachlan, and The Whirling Dervishes cover of "You're A Mean One Mr Grinch".

  5. I have a similar teenage retail experience (Spencer Gifts) where they looped the same holiday CD over and over. The one song I remember being able to tolerate was a song called "Space Christmas" by the female Japanese punk band Shonen Knife.

    Other than that, I'd say that the Charlie Brown Christmas album is worth a listen. Vince Guaraldi wrote some fantastic music for the Peanuts over the years.

  6. My students just did a cover of Winter Things by Ariana Grande. I really liked the ukulele.

  7. I am a big fan of My Chemical Romance's cover to "All I want for Christmas is you"

    1. I don't think I've heard that one; I'll have to check it out. MCR is one of my favorite bands - so psyched they're back.