My friend Jay Bonfatti used to do a Christmas mix every year for his friends, which numbered 250 or so after several years of collections. The mixes started on cassettes and moved to CD's. If you didn't like a song, you just waited a minute and another very different one would come along.
Last year, I copied the idea just so that I could put some of my favorite holiday songs in one place. Then, when I had a book signing at my house in December, I gave the CD out to friends who had bought the book. I figured it was the least I could do.
I received a few calls and e-mails along the lines of "This is great, but who the heck did song 18?"
Thus encouraged, I decided to do another CD for 2008. Jay, sadly, never got to hear it, as he passed away earlier this year. Thinking quickly, I put a dedication to Jay on the list of song titles. I heard he had actually compiled his own CD for this holiday, but didn't have the chance to have it duplicated.
Since a local radio station has started playing holiday music non-stop, it's obviously time to think about 2008. What goes into someone's head when putting together a list? Here's what I was thinking, passed along here so you can get ideas for songs to buy for yourself:
1. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Tori Amos
2. What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? - Barbra Streisand
I like to start slow. Amos beat out a James Taylor song for the opener. I heard of Streisand's Christmas album and said, "I'll bet the songs on there are pretty well done." I hadn't heard of this one before, but I have now noticed it elsewhere.
3. Carol of the Bells - The Nylons
4. Winter Wonderland - Manhattan Transfer
The tempo goes up a notch.
5. Christmas Time Is Here - Dianne Reeves
6. You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch - Thurl Ravenscroft
Christmas is a time for children, so a salute to them here. Reeves' version of the well-known song from "A Charlie Brown Christmas" is great, and everyone smiles upon hearing about Mr. Grinch. Did you known Ravenscroft was the voice of Tony the Tiger?
7. I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm - Kay Starr
Time to turn things up and start going through the years. This is a remix of Starr's song with a big beat.
8. Frosty the Snowman - Ronettes
9. Up on the Housetop - Jackson 5
10. Santa Claus is Coming to Town - The Pointer Sisters
11. Christmas - U2
Some old favorites updated. The Ronettes song is from the Phil Spector Christmas album, a must for anyone who likes this material.
12. Christmas All Over Again - Tom Petty
13. Run With the Fox - Chris Squire
Nice songs from rockers that haven't gotten much attention. Squire plays with Yes, and I think some of his bandmates help him out here.
14. Santa Claus is Smoking Reefer - Squirrel Nut Zippers
15. A Change at Christmas - Flaming Lips
16. Fairy Tale of New York - the Pogues
Some New Wave material that I hadn't heard until a couple of months ago. "Fairy Tale" has some, shall we say, urban slang (not too bad) but is charming.
17. Come All Ye Faithful - Freddie McGregor
18. We Wish You a Merry Christmas - from "African Christmas"
19. Deck the Stills - Barenaked Ladies
20. Jingle Bells Polka - John Stevens' Doubleshot
21. Snowman's Lane - Keith Emerson
A variety of types of music here - reggae, African, comic, polka, and a bit progressive.
22. A Marshmellow World - Dean Martin
23. Cool Yule - Bette Midler
24. Getting in the Mood - Brian Setzer Orchestra
A little swing music always sounds good.
25. I Pray on Christmas - Blind Boys of Alabama
I like to finish with a Gospel song.
Happy mixing, and happy holidays.