Five for Friday

Tis the day before Christmas, and after a day of travelling, a return to work, house cleaning, and more holiday scheming than probably reasonable... I'm tuckered.

So, I'm keeping today's post simple. Something to help indulge in yuletide cheer. These are my five all-time favorite Christmas songs.

1. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel: Written by John Mason Neale. It's the most traditional carol on this list with origins in the 8th to 12th centuries. Of the traditional set, it's one of my favorites because of the somber melody and down-tempo rhythms.

It's been recorded by a slew of artists (somewhat of a Christmas album staple) including Sufjan Stevens, Sixpence None the Richer, Sugarland, Kendall Payne, and (my personal favorite rendition) Chasing Furies.

2. Blue Christmas: Written by Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson. Originally recorded by Ernest Tubb but popularized by Elvis.

Other versions have been recorded by Lady Antebellum, Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crow, and Face to Face. The best (in my opinion) came from indie rocker Bright Eyes.

3. Happy X-Mas (War Is Over): Written by John Lennon and recorded by Lennon with the Plastic Ono Band. While this remains both one of my favorite Christmas tunes and my favorite Lennon song, I feel compelled to admit I like the various other versions by other artists better.

And there are several other versions. The Polyphonic Spree, Sense Field, Street Drum Corps, Thrice, and Hot Rod Circuit have all recorded their own take on Lennon's classic, but the best comes from Canadian Sarah McLachlan.

4. Sleigh Ride: Composed by Leroy Anderson in the mid 40s then recorded by The Boston Pops Orchestra. Lyrics were added in 1950 by Mitchell Parish. One could argue that this is more of a wintry song than a Christmas carol as the lyrics never mention any specific holiday, and a birthday party is the only lyrical celebratory reference. But this song defines my standard for Christmas music.

This is also common fodder for holiday themed albums with versions from a wide variety of artists including Debbie Gibson, Relient K, KT Tunstall, and Squirrel Nut Zippers. However, my favorite rendition is found on the one Christmas album that seemed to be constant on my parents record player when I was little. It's the album that introduced me to this song and still buries me in nostalgia every time I hear it: from Amy Grant's 1983 A Christmas Album.

Finally, my absolute top pick of all...

5. 2000 Miles: Written and Recorded by The Pretenders. Lyricist Chrissie Hynde claims it's not a Christmas song, but it does (with advantage over Sleigh Ride) mention Christmas. And snow. And singing kids. So even if it was never intended to be a Christmas song, it's close enough for me.

It's been recorded by KT Tunstall and Coldplay. While I adore the Coldplay version, the original recording from The Pretenders can't be beat.

Now go listen to some Christmas music, and have a wonderful holiday weekend.

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