I know, it seems every year Christmas comes earlier and earlier. The Christmas season being pushed to the end of October; by large corporations who want us to spend more money, thus, increasing their 4th quarter earnings. The cynic in me wants to agree; however, the little boy romantic, says: So what, Christmas isn’t only about gifts and what you get, it’s also about the warm feelings, good food and of course good Christmas music.
Now, when it comes to music in general, I have what I consider a rather eclectic taste; not being pegged down by any one genera, I simple love good music; if it be classical, punk or pop. If the music is good I like it and when it comes to Christmas music my tastes run no different.
Below is a top ten list of what I consider to be the best Christmas songs of all time, and some reasons why. Naturally, there are a lot more Christmas songs than the list suggests and I could have compiled a top 100 hundred just as easily; however, these 10 are the most dear, often for more personal than ascetic reasons.
In reverse order, here are the top ten Christmas songs of all time; to my reckoning at least.
10. Father Christmas : Performed by: The Kinks
The irony of this somewhat hard rocking Christmas song is why it made the top ten. Specifically, the lyric “Father Christmas, give us some money, don’t mess around with those silly toys” humorously speaks volumes of the fight between those that have and those who do not. And of course, denotes the fact, charity sometimes is greeted with muggings instead of gratitude.
9. Do they know it’s Christmas: Performed by: Band-aid
A Bob Geldof creation, “Do they know it’s Christmas” holds a special place in my heart for the simple fact that it came out when I was 11 years old. Just discovering music, this was my first experience with what music could do and be on a global level.
8. So this is Christmas: Performed by: John Lennon
I would be remiss in not including this classic. Though discovered later in life, this classic Christmas song has the same meaning and power as number 9.
7. Gabriel’s Message: Performed by: Sting
Simply a beautiful song, with Sting doing it complete justice. Enough said!
6. Silent Night: Performed by: Bad Religion
As I said previously, I have a rather eclectic taste in music and this is a fine example. Normally, punk music and Christmas music go together about as well as mustard and apples, (wait, I think I ate that once) but there is something to this version, which rates and warrants a mention. Taking a rather sublime song and incorporating a striped down angry guitar adds a new dimension to this classic Christmas song.
5. Winter Wonderland: Performed by: Eurythmics
Again, simply a beautiful song, with Annie Lennox’ voice bringing goose bumps every time I hear it.
4. Little St Knick: Performed by: The Beach Boys
This made my top ten strictly for sentimental reasons and after all, isn’t Christmas all about sentiment? When I was young, my father had been a really big beach boys fan. The constant playing of their LPs and 45s insured that I would know more beach boys lyrics than children’s stories. Now, that I am older, I have come to respect the vocal arrangements of the beach boys in general and this song in particular; while, somewhat determinedly, over look the kitschy nature of a hot-rod super sleigh.
3. Do you hear what I Hear: Performed by: Bing Crosby
Now much can be said about Bing both good and bad; however, one undeniable fact is that he could sing. In fact, he is the only artist to appear twice on my top ten list. In this Christmas classic Bing gives us his best; warmth and glory seem to emanate from his voice. If I had to chose one song to encapsulate what I think quality is, it would this.
2. Little Drummer Boy: Performed by: David Bowie and Bing Crosby.
Now, this was actually a hard choice to make, as this classic song is actually my favourite regardless of the performer, but, perhaps because it has been done and redone so many times, it has lost some of its unique value. This version performed by two of the greatest singers of all time, brings back some of the original splendour; however, at last it has just been done too many times. Now, you should not misunderstand me, this version, is one of the best ever made, and I truly can say, I am moved to tears whenever I hear this version- but, it still can not be named number one, as you will see in just a moment why.
1. I believe in Father Christmas: Performed by: Greg Lake (ELP)
This song not only deserves to be number one on my list, but should be heralded as one of the best Christmas songs of all time. The reason why I chose this song to be number one, is that it is a truly original Christmas song, created whole cloth by one of the best musicians of all time. Lyrically and musically complex, melodies and poignant ideas are interwoven creating not only a feeling, not only a mood, but a clear and concise picture of Greg Lake’s musical intent. If you allow a slight indulgence the following stanza has to be one of the best written Christmas sentiments of all time:
I wish you a hopeful Christmas
I wish you a brave New Year
All anguish pain and sadness
Leave your heart and let your road be clear
They said there’ll be snow at Christmas
They said there’ll be peace on Earth
Hallelujah Noel be it Heaven or Hell
The Christmas you get you deserve.
Perfectly written, the above ending to the song truly captures and holds up the ideas of Christmas for a deeper contemplation. In my experience and according to my taste, this is the one and only “Great” Christmas song: all others pale in comparison.
…and with that I wish all a merry Christmas that rocks with good music.