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Can I Interest You in Hanukkah Songs … that Aren’t Sung by Adam Sandler?

8 Dec

sharon jones 8 days1
Anyone who knows me knows there are few things I love more than Christmas music. I made Very Marty Xmas mixes for 10 years, and continue to maintain an “Ultimate” playlist version of the mix on Spotify that includes everyone from Mariah Carey to Andy Williams to Harry Connick, Jr. to Darlene Love singing festive tunes, and is updated all the time to include new tracks.

But here’s the rub: I’m Jewish. And one thing that bothers me every year is that, despite how much I enjoy the Christmas season and all the music, I wish Hanukkah was better represented. Unfortunately, while Jews have written many of the most beloved Christmas songs (it’s true!), we haven’t done a very good job of writing songs for our own holiday. So those Members of the Tribe who are looking for seasonal music are often stuck with Adam Sandler’s “Chanukah Song” — which was funny the first few times, but now, 13 years later, it’s just tired (not to mention totally outdated). Continue reading

This Is the Best Christmas Music Playlist of All Time

15 Dec
Photo credit: TSgt Suzanne M. Day/Creative Commons

Photo credit: TSgt Suzanne M. Day/Creative Commons

True story: If you want to know what the best Christmas music is, you should ask a Jewish person.

Why is that? Honestly, I really don’t know. Perhaps it has something to do with, as Sarah Spigelman Richter recently wrote on, a deep-seated sense of FOMO for “a culture that is in no way destined to be mine.” Feeling left out can be hard, so we appreciate the “Americanized, agnostic version of the Christmas season” that much more because it’s not really ours.

Or maybe that has nothing to do with it.

What I do know is that were it not for the Jews, we wouldn’t have some of the best Christmas songs of all time. “White Christmas,” anyone? “Silver Bells?” “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)?” Etc. Etc. All written by Jews. So clearly, we know our holiday tunes. Continue reading

The Ultimate “Very Marty” Holiday Spotify Playlist

4 Dec

My blog readers have landed on Santa Claus and Hanukkah Harry’s “Nice List” this year.

So as my present to you all, I’ve compiled what may be the ultimate “Very Marty Xmas” playlist, using Spotify.

That right: It’s three hours of some of my favorite holiday songs — I say “holiday,” because the playlist does include some Hanukkah and New Year’s songs too. (Screw you, Fox News.)

Nearly every track from my best-of compilation is here, as are a bunch from other years, plus a few tracks that never made it on to a mix in all my 10 years of making them.

Unfortunately, some tracks had to be excluded because they’re not on Spotify. Specifically, that includes what may be the best version of “O Holy Night” I’ve ever heard, the one Trombone Shorty did on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Oh well. I’ve embedded the video below because this wouldn’t really be an “ultimate” playlist without it.

(I also wish the Stephen Colbert/Jon Stewart duet “Can I Interest You in Hanukkah” was on Spotify, but maybe that was hoping for too much.)

So without further ado, here’s the mix. Hopefully you have a Spotify account so you can enjoy it. Continue reading

10 Is Enough

30 Nov

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge fan of Thanksgiving.

Yes, I love me some turkey and gravy, a couple days off from work, time to see friends, maybe hang out in New York City and see a show, and just generally have fun.

But one of the best things about Thanksgiving is that when it’s over, that’s when the coast is clear to break out the holiday music and play those songs on repeat for a month straight.

That’s basically what I’ve done since Friday, and thankfully, I’ve amassed quite a collection so there’s a lot to listen to. Many of those songs have been included on my Very Marty Xmas mixes over the years. Continue reading

It Wouldn’t Be the Holidays Without Her

23 Dec

A few years back, I got into a discussion with a friend when I told her how much I love Christmas.

“No,” she clarified. “You love the Christmas season. You don’t have to deal with the family and the religious stuff.”

She was right about all of that. I’m a huge fan of the season, with the pagentry and the lights and the deals and the happier mood and the lighter workload and the food and the celebrations and the traditions and yes, the music.

Oh, how I love the music of the Christmas season. Continue reading

A Very Special Xmas for Me

16 Dec

I don’t know exactly when it was that I became such a fan of Christmas music, but 10 years ago I decided to create a mix of my favorite holiday tunes.

A friend of mine suggested I give it out to people as a sort-of Christmas card, and she even gave the mix the name A Very Marty Xmas.

The rest is history.

With the exception of 2008, I’ve made a mix every year for the past decade.

I say humbly that these compilations have become as much of a beloved holiday tradition as A Charlie Brown Christmas or the all-day A Christmas Story marathon on TBS.

And yes, I’m Jewish, which makes the whole thing even more fun. (Then again, so was Irving Berlin, and he wrote “White Christmas!”)

Which brings us to A Very Marty Xmas 2010, the special, extra-festive tenth-anniversary edition. Continue reading

Step Back Into Christmas with Me

16 Nov

This really is the most wonderful time of the year. In fact, every year I can’t wait to get past Halloween because that means one thing: It’s time to start work on the year’s edition of A Very Marty Xmas.

2010 will actually be the 10th anniversary edition of my annual mix. That’s right, I’ve been making holiday mixes for 10 years (that is, if you don’t count 2008, which I skipped), and many folks have told me my mixes have become an essential part of their holiday. That’s pretty amusing — and impressive — considering I’m Jewish and all. Continue reading

An Xmas You’ll Always Remember

11 Dec

Here’s something you may not know about me: I absolutely love Christmas music.


There’s just something about it that I can’t get enough of.

The jingle-jangley tuneage permeates the malls and dominates the radio waves from Thanksgiving to December 25, and it just makes me feel so festive — and yes, I’m Jewish!

To spread that joy, I’ve been making a mix of holiday music every year since 2000, and those who’ve been listening have told me that A Very Marty Xmas just makes the holiday for them.

They say it’s as much a tradition to listen to my mixes as it is to trim the tree or party down or bake cookies (no kidding) — which, of course, is partly why I’ve kept this fun annual project going for almost a decade, and why I’ve amassed a collection of Christmas music that’s larger than any Jew should have. Continue reading

Say It Ain’t So

18 Nov

My friends, as I survey my collection of unused holiday tunes, I’m very quickly coming to the realization that there may not be a Very Marty Christmas 2008. I spent some time this past weekend re-listening to last year’s mix and congratulating myself once again on what a great, fun compilation it was. (Really. At various times, I found myself saying out loud, to no one but myself, how great an album it was.) Heck, I even made two CDs — the second being my best-of collection. So how could I possibly top those this year?

Before anyone blames this on the economy or laziness or anything else, know this much: I’m trying. But of all the new holiday music I’m listening to — Sheryl Crow, Kristin Chenoweth, the Brushfire collection, Brian McKnight, Ledisi, and even Neil Sedaka — very little of it is any good. Of course, I love the new Harry Connick Jr. holiday album, but I can’t really make a CD of only Harry Connick tunes. That wouldn’t be very cool — or legal. And I really don’t want to make a subpar CD of leftovers that didn’t make it onto previous year’s mixes (like Dido’s “Christmas Day,” a perennial also-ran, or Darlene Love’s now-three-year-old “Christmastime for the Jews“).

Really, I’m just not as excited about making a mix this year like I was last year. So maybe the best thing for me to do is go out on top and leave folks wanting more. After all, last year’s mix was really good. Like, instant-classic good. Maybe by next year I’ll have enough material to compile a really good and worthy ninth (!!) Very Marty Christmas CD. And, maybe I’ll rally and find enough for a good CD this year. You never know what can happen around holiday time. Stay tuned.

But It Is a Classic

22 Dec

Jeeeez. A whole article about Christmas CDs and not one mention of A Very Marty Xmas 2007 being an instant classic. That doesn’t seem right.

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