It’s just a post-it note I kept in my planner since about this time last year. I must have had some extra time on my hands, probably sitting through a dull meeting seeking a break from workplace monotony. My wife saw it one day during this holiday season and asked me about it.
On the note is a list of what I believe are the best interpretations of Christmas songs I’ve enjoyed over the years. Within minutes of the discovery, she was offering some of her suggestions and debating some of my choices.
That’s the beauty of creating lists of your favorite things; there are no wrong answers.
So here we go, in no particular order, with my list of the best interpretations of holiday music:
Baby it’s Cold Outside by Dean Martin- a breezy and playful tune with an early Dino preceding his 1960’s TV image of a swinging ladies man.
Winter Wonderland by Elvis Presley- from the King’s second Christmas album. It includes a great electric guitar bridge and an ending crescendo that secures his place in holiday music history.
Christmastime is Here by Tony Bennett- from his album with the Count Basie orchestra. But for just about any holiday song, Tony can make any holiday song his own.
White Christmas by Jerry Vale- with the understanding that this song is so perfect, just about anyone’s version could be a favorite, I have always enjoyed his enthusiastic embracing of the great American songbook.
Wonderful White World of Winter by Bing Crosby – a little known song found on a Columbia compilation album remains one of my favorites.
Sleigh Ride/Jingle Bells by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans- just a great spin on two classics that includes Roy’s yodeling.
Sleigh Ride by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops- the instrumental version is perfect.
The First Noel by Bill Anderson- the country whisperer’s version of this carol includes a recitation that almost brings me to tears.
Let It Snow by Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme- the husband/wife team knocks this one out of the holiday park.
The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole- in the same category of White Christmas, I couldn’t argue with just about anyone who favors another artist. But Nat really brought it home for me.
Christmas Waltz by Frank Sinatra- the chairman of the board’s version respects the waltz timing and catches the artist at arguably his creative peak.
Even as I write this, I can think of others. Merry Christmas Darling by the Carpenters and A Child is Born by Johnny Mathis come to mind immediately. I didn’t include anything from Andy Williams. That wasn’t intentional; it’s only because of time that my list stands as it is. At least for this year.
There will be more songs as the holiday season passes. Next year, th ere will be others to add to or to replace songs on this list. At any rate, as long as we have the gift of music, we’ll have a strong connection to the season.
Steve Newvine lives in Merced