“O Holy Night,” written in 1847 by French composer Adolphe Adam, is one of those Christmas standards that frequently receives a reverent treatment, yet all too often a treatment that turns an epic sonic blast.
Tonight, we find three under the tree that treat “O Holy Night” a little differently, a little more downbeat.
“O Holy Night,” Easy Anthems, from “Hark!” 2007.
Remarkably, this record was a free download last year, and I was delighted to have found it. Easy Anthems is an Americana group led by the Long Island husband-and-wife team of Philip A. Jimenez and Vanesa Alvero Jimenez. Theirs is a laid-back version featuring Vanesa’s strong, soulful vocals, Philip’s gentle guitar and Paul Loren’s Wurlitzer electric piano.
“O Night Divine,” Melissa Etheridge, from “A New Thought For Christmas,” 2008.
This is the only new Christmas record I bought this year. It has its moments, and this is one. While not “O Holy Night,” this tune incorporates bits of it. You hear it in Philip Sayce’s long, sizzling guitar solo, which starts about a minute in. You hear it again about two-thirds of the way through, when Etheridge winds up her scorching vocals. It’s different — music from long ago, lyrics for today — but I like it.
“O Holy Night,” Irma Thomas, from “A Creole Christmas,” 1990. It’s out of print and much in demand.
Last year, our fellow music blogger Jason Hare’s Mellowmas series (since moved to Popdose) offered Jim Nabors’ take on this tune. In the comments was this tip from a reader named Rob:
“For a GREAT take on this song, check out Irma Thomas’ version on a compilation called ‘A Creole Christmas.’ Goosebump-inducing stuff.”
Rob was correct, and we posted it over here at AM, Then FM.
Reverent but thrilling, this version is done as a New Orleans dirge with some terrific Hammond organ. Still the best.