Having recently stayed at a hotel in North Somerset where they only had 3 cds, one of which was a Christmas compilation, I found myself constructing my own ideal Christmas playlist.
1/ Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses (any song that starts “Bah Humbug” and then paints a picture of life in New York over Christmas and the beginnings of an unsentimental love affair in 5 minutes has to be the winner).
2/ Fairytale of New York – The Pogues (up until my stay in Somerset, this may well have been the winner but hearing it 500 times in 3 days does tend to jade the palate).
3/ Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – The Crystals (every Christmas growing up would mean Phil Spector’s ‘A Christmas Gift For You’ resounding through the house as it filled with the smells of cooking. Sensory overload)!
4 Frosty the Snowman – Cocteau Twins (the crystalline vocals of Elizabeth Fraser and the ethereal guitar of Robin Guthrie create an icy, swirling blizzard around the head of Frosty).
5/ Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis – Tom Waits (a timely reminder of what Christmas means to those on the margins. Heartbreaking).
6/ Christmas Evermore – Mary Margaret O’Hara (maverick musical genius versus traditional Christian festival – difficult to predict a winner).
7/Things Fall Apart – Cristina ( stone wall classic on the legendary Ze record label: a tale of mental disintegration at Christmas).
8/ Christmas In Cape Town – Randy Newman (few writers can manage to nail prejudice the way Newman does over and over in his songs. Forget the kids’ soundtracks, this is bold and daring).
9/Xmas In February – Lou Reed (US involvement in wars abroad and how ex-servicemen are treated when they return seem appropriate at this time of year as well).
10/ Just Like Christmas – Low (slowcore? No, nothing like it. This is jaunty pop perfection with sleigh bells ringing out in a manner Phil Spector would be proud of).
11/ Thank God It’s Not Christmas – Sparks (Thank God for Sparks: witty, literate and still going).
12/ Corpus Christi Carol – Jeff Buckley (this might be a good one to put on first thing as you stumble round in the dark clearing the trail of destruction left by your kids up since 5).
13/ Child’s Christmas in Wales – John Cale (Cale may have studied atonality under LaMonte Young but he writes some lovely tunes).
14/ Xmas Curtain – My Morning Jacket (simply a beautiful song that would be number 1 in a better, alternate universe).
15/ Star of Bethlehem – Neil Young (and here’s the source without whom My Morning Jacket wouldn’t exist).
16/ Soon After Christmas – Stina Nordenstam (very Rickie Lee Jones but that’s a good thing in my household).
17/ Gaudete – Steeleye Span (I love English folk music and love Steeleye Span nearly as much as Fairport Convention).
18/ Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence – Ryuichi Sakamoto (the only connection between David Bowie, David Sylvian and hardcore Japanese porn).
19/ Black Christmas – Poly Styrene (a song incorporating reggae, race and Poly – what more do you want?)
20/ If Christmas Can’t Bring You Home – The Reigning Sound (not advised listening if you are apart from a loved one).
And one more to get the party started:
Rock N Roll Santa – Yo La Tengo (first to pogo to the height of the Xmas tree gets the magnum of champagne).
And finally a very merry Christmas to all my lovely readers.