Just like my fall reflections on the greatest autumnal music around, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my favorite holiday tunes! It just can’t be the Christmas season until I’ve heard several of my favorite songs — many of them by particular artists. Everyone connects with music differently and remembers it nostalgically, and here are the tunes I absolutely have to hear to feel holly and jolly!
The Ray Conniff Singers
My first choice has strong ancestral origins: my grandfather used to play the Ray Conniff Singers’ classic holiday album “Christmas with Conniff” every year while my mom, aunt and Grandma helped decorate the tree and Grandpa put up his famed Christmas village beneath the tree. Originally released in 1959, this is definitely one of the most “classic” of my favorite seasonal albums! As soon as my parents married in 1980, Mom had to have Conniff to play while they put up their own tree. My aunt actually went out and bought the CD, too, without discussing it with anyone. Eventually we all realized we continue to play “Christmas with Conniff” year after year! “Silver Bells,” “Christmas Bride” and “White Christmas” are my favorites — beautiful, simple and filled with the resonate voices of a choir. Check it out at Amazon — you can play snippets, too.
Just as Ray Conniff is a holiday staple for my mom, Elvis Presley’s holiday album “It’s Christmas Time” is a staple for my dad. My grandmother is a huge Presley fan and, though many new holiday compilation albums have come out over the years, this one is my favorite: simple, only ten songs. “Blue Christmas” and “Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)” can’t be missed!
And now we get into our tunes! My sister and I have been devoted Hanson fans since 1997. While my crazy, obsessive love of the three guys from Tulsa, Okla. has become more managable and less a part of my daily life over the years, we always return to their 1997 holiday album “Snowed In” for general tree decorating and feeling young again. Taylor’s aching vocals on “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” still resonate with me! Katie loves Zac’s rendition of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” and the boys even put out a few original songs on this one: “At Christmas,” “Everybody Knows the Claus” and “Christmas Time.” Still a classic around my house, even though it’s now out-of-print! And we even have the cassette tape version!
Who can get through the holidays without belting out “All I Want for Christmas Is You”? It’s just not natural! That tune alone makes Carey’s 1994 album “Merry Christmas” worth the price of admission. That song caused quite the stir at my fourth grade holiday talent show . . . mostly because every little girl at our school wanted to jig around singing it on stage. Sadly, I didn’t make the cut when auditioning — but I still love that song!
And we’re back to boy bands! Ah, yes — the days of my outrageous infatuation with all things ‘NSYNC and, specifically, Justin Timberlake. Their 1998 release “Home For Christmas” really is a great album, though, and spawned a few contemporary holiday songs still buzzing around radio stations and playlists this time of year. “I Never Knew The Meaning Of Christmas” is beautiful, as is “The Only Gift.” I still know every word by heart!
And what about everyone out there? I know everyone has their classics they can’t live without!