Monday Music: Top 5 secular Christmas songs

(Seems like Ray could have found a better sleigh for the picture!)

The Christmas season is officially upon us (just ask anyone who is working retail). This means Hallmark movies, decorated homes, and Christmas music on the raido (I’m sure Pandora has a few good stations!) If you are like me, then you have a sort of love/hate relationship with Christmas music. I very rarely drive around listening to the station on my dial playing 24 hour Christmas songs because so much of it is soooooo bad (I’m looking at you Paul McCartney and your ‘Wonderful Christmas time’). But even if it is rare, I do love the good stuff.

So in hopes of spreading my love of Christmas music (and not so much the hate), I am going to spend the next few weeks posting about my favorite Christmas songs. I have broken the genre into three categories: secular, religious but not hymns, and hymns. Also, I am limiting my lists to actual recordings, which makes things a bit tricky with the hymns category, so that you can actualy find these songs and add them to your ‘Best Christmas Songs’ playlist on iTunes (if you don’t have one, you should start one with these songs).

Today we begin with my top 5 secular Christmas songs:

5. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (Jack Johnson): To be fair, I chose this one more for the recording than for the song. I like Jack Johnson on occasion and this is a fun version of the silly song about a reindeer (with a surprise ending): Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

4. Carol of the Bells (Glenna Marshall): There is something haunting about the melody of this song. Of course, there are some poor versions of it, but my personal favorite is my wife playing it on the piano combined with ‘What Child is This.’ We recorded this a few years ago for an album that we did for our Church. You can listen and download it for free here: What Child is This/Carol of the Bells.

3. White Christmas (Bing Crosby): I cannot claim to be a huge Bing fan, but I do love hearing this song around Christmas. And truth is, I always want Christmas Day to be covered with snow, unless I am driving through 3 states to get home (which has happened on a couple of occasions). The song and recording is a classic: White Christmas.

2. The Christmas Song (Nat King Cole): There is a reason why this song is near the top of everyone’s favorite Christmas song list. Cole’s voice and simple tickling of the ivories combined with the nice strings makes for a great song. Yes, it is overplayed and yes, it is a bit cliché, but it is still a great recording: The Christmas Song (sorry about the Thomas Kinkadesque video, it was the best one I could find of the song without Frankie singing along).

1. The Spirit of Christmas (Ray Charles): So there is a particular Christmas movie that I enjoy that features this song in one scene that I love (perhaps the only semi-serious scene of the entire movie). And maybe I would not like the song as much without the scene, but as it is, I love this song. Everytime I hear it I am both happy and sad at the same time (a little shout out to ‘Inside Out’ for helping us understand the importance of that mixture of emotions). Great song Mr. Charles: The Spirit of Christmas.

Enjoy these great songs on your Cyber Monday!  More to come!



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