Over the past two weeks or so I’ve had quite a few discussions about the Very Marty Christmas CDs and all the work that goes into making the disc every year (this is year six). I’ve been joking that when put together, the CDs would make one hell of a boxed set. I mean, really: considering that each disc is nearly 80 minutes of music, you could start playing them all (in sequence) at noon on Christmas Day and have enough music to last until almost 7:30 p.m. That would be one holly, jolly Christmas!
Anyway, so it’s led me to consider compiling a “best of the box” CD for those who have not been a part of the fun for all these years. However, until that day arrives when I actually burn this “best of” CD, here is a list of what I would consider to be the 20 essential holiday tunes that would be on my Ultimate Very Marty Christmas CD, in no particular order:
1. Darlene Love, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” — The best Christmas record of all time, in my humble opinion. Not even U2’s cover can touch Darlene Love’s original. She sings it every year on Late Show with David Letterman and will be doing so this Friday night. Set your DVR.
2. Donny Hathaway, “This Christmas” — Simply, a soulful classic.
3. Mariah Carey, “All I Want for Christmas Is You” — A good, old fashioned Mariah Carey tune that totally puts you in the holiday mood. This is an irresistible confection; it’s undeniably catchy and hard to dislike.
4. Stevie Wonder, “That’s What Christmas Means to Me” — It’s hard to choose between this song and Stevie’s “Someday at Christmas,” but like Mariah Carey’s track, this song is also irresistibly upbeat and catchy.
5. John Lennon, “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” — Of course. The Corrs’ cover of this song is also quite good.
6. Band Aid, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” — Untouchable. As last year’s remake proved, it’s hard to improve upon the original, though Barenaked Ladies do a really fun cover of this song live.
7. Andy Williams, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” — Duh. Like there was any question about including this one.
8. Harry Connick, Jr., “Sleigh Ride” — Had to make a tough choice here. A song by Harry has been on every one of my mixes because his two Christmas CDs are my two favorites of all-time. If they’re not in your collection, buy them now.
9. Jose Feliciano, “Feliz Navidad” — Why not?
10. NSync, “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” — What? It’s Christmas, cut me some slack.
11. Ray Charles, “Winter Wonderland” — The gold standard rendition of one of the most popular Christmas songs.
12. Bruce Springsteen, “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” — A big, boisterous cover.
13. The Eagles, “Please Come Home for Christmas” — Not a happy song, but an essential nevertheless.
14. Tom Petty, “It’s Christmas All Over Again” — Yeah, again.
15. John Williams, “Carol of the Bells” — Sure, this song will stick out on the mix, but it’s one I just love listening to.
16. Britney Spears, “My Only Wish (This Year)” — You’ve gotta hear it to know what I’m talking about. This is old school Britney, the sweet, pop music kind.
17. James Taylor, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” — A gentle voice makes this song even warmer.
18. Ron Sexsmith, “Maybe This Christmas” — Short, sweet, and to the point.
19. Jimmy Buffett, “Mele Kalikimaka” — This one’s pure novelty. It’s a dose of summer at the coldest time of year.
20. Rufus Wainwright, “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” — A song of longing, one that ends any mix with a cliffhanger. I also love Vonda Shepard’s version.
Alright, there are plenty, plenty more great holiday songs, but as I’m going through the first five mixes, those are the ones that stand out. And hey, I’m the one making the mix here. You want to suggest a “best of” mix? Go right ahead.
And of course, perhaps this raises a question for you: What’s on this year’s mix? Well, I think it may just be a perfect mix of classic, contemporary, jolly, rocking, upbeat, downbeat, and bittersweet tunes. And, there’s a Hanukkah song on it! I can’t wait for people to finally hear it. I’m putting them in the mail on Tuesday, so midweek, I’ll post the final list. Stay tuned.