This year, a little something different for Christmas.
Because, somehow, it feels like a different kind of Christmas this year.
I stopped at the record store the other day and went through the Christmas CDs. Didn’t find anything. The new ones by Annie Lennox and Shelby Lynne looked interesting enough, but in the end, no.
In writing the Three Under the Tree series for the last three years, I picked up a bunch of old Christmas vinyl and CDs. To be honest, more for you than for me. They’re really more than anyone should have.
So this time around, on these 12 Days of Christmas, please enjoy some of the tunes that have become our holiday favorites. Then seek out the records and make them yours.
“A Motown Christmas,” various artists, 1973.
This record has been part of Christmas at my house since the late ’70s.
The first cut on the first side is the song that blew my 13-year-old mind in 1970 — “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” by the Jackson 5.
That there was Christmas music like this, and that they played it on the radio every December, well, that made the season all the more special.
If I could have only one Christmas record, this would be it.
The songs are mined from the Motown archives, all from a time when the label was at its peak. Most of them appeared on the five artists’ own Christmas records, then were repackaged here.
“My Favorite Things,” the Supremes, originally from “Merry Christmas,” 1965.
This isn’t necessarily a Christmas song, and I’m not necessarily a big Supremes fan, but this is a nice holiday cut. It’s a Rodgers and Hammerstein tune from “The Sound of Music.” The lineup for this was Diana Ross, Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard with the Andantes on backing vocals. Harvey Fuqua produced.
“Someday at Christmas,” Stevie Wonder, originally from “Someday at Christmas,” 1967.
“Someday at Christmas, there’ll be no war.” We’re still hoping.
“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, originally from “The Season For Miracles,” 1970.
A little jazz styling, anyone?
“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” the Temptations, originally from “The Temptations’ Christmas Card,” 1970.
A song that really showcases each of the Tempts’ talents. This was the lineup with Eddie Kendricks hitting the high notes, Melvin Franklin the low notes and Dennis Edwards, Paul Williams and Otis Williams everything else. Barrett Strong co-produced.
“Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,” the Jackson 5, originally from “The Jackson 5 Christmas Album,” 1970.
Mind-blowing every time. It still summons the feeling of being 13 and hearing it for the first time.
All from “A Motown Christmas,” 1973. It’s out of print but is available digitally.
One more thing: Yes, we’ll have 12 days of Christmas here this year. No, they won’t be 12 consecutive days, though.
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