One of the local radio stations is already threatening, er, promising to switch to an all-Christmas music format starting Thanksgiving. That’s still more welcome than the way retailers and the mall jumped into Christmas with both feet beginning November 01. Playing Christmas music for a sixth of the entire year might be okay as long as other stations play something else, but there is a problem with the Christmas stations: doesn’t it seem like they only play the same 12 records over and over?
And over. And over.
Within just a few days you are Jingle Belled out, wishing Frosty would melt, ready to sentence Rudolph to a lifetime of not playing Reindeer Games, ready to smash the little drummer boy’s drum with a mallet, and convinced that Grandma may have deserved deer tracks on her back.
Part of the problem is the loss of anything even remotely like a true Christmas carol – none of those songs seem to exist on the airwaves anymore. This reduces the potential playlist a great deal (although Little Drummer Boy somehow continues to show up).
In the past, when an artist had a hit record for the first time they were likely to record a Christmas album. While a lot of the songs on the album were probably remakes of the same old standards, the artist would also record a song that seemed a lot like their hit record. Those records have sadly been lost to us.
Or so I thought.
I have the Sirius-XM radio on my computer at the store. The app allows you to listen to maybe a hundred different channels, and one of them is Holiday Traditions. If you simply listen to that channel it is only marginally better than listening to the repeat-peat-peat songs on local radio, but there’s a way around that! In your car, you’re probably stuck, but on the computer, you can customize many of the channels.
If you were listening to the sixties channel you could customize the channel to more or less soul, top hits or wide music choices, more or fewer instrumentals, etc. For the Holiday Traditions channel, you still get three slide bars to customize the channel, and the important one was set up by somebody with a sense of humor. The five levels of choice run from wide selection to a smaller list of songs, but the names they used for the extremes are cute:
Familiarity: Stocking Stuffers….x…..x…..x….Evergreens
If you select Stocking Stuffers, the list of songs that comes pouring out of your speakers appears to be an endless list of non-repeating records. This afternoon I thought to keep a list of the songs that channel played, and I’m really happy with the channel. The records range from the early 1940s to the last ten years or so, and the range of artists is incomparable. I’m sure the channel works best if I just listen for an hour a day, but so far it’s been almost good enough to make Christmas seem like a good idea again.
Here’s the list of songs we got in the past hour or two. I’m not sure even I ever heard any of them before!
Frank’s sad Christmas song links to a video; you’re on your own to find the rest.
Frank Sinatra – Whatever Happened To Christmas
Glenn Miller Singers – And the Bells Rang
Bing Crosby – I’ve Got Plenty To Be Thankful For
Lex DeAzevedo – What Child Is This
Dean Martin – A Winter Romance
Philadelphia Orchestra – Pat-A-Pan
Rosemary Clooney – Christmas Mem’ries
Patti Page – I Wanna Go Skating With Willie
Bronn Journey – The Holly and the Ivy
McGuire Sisters with Dick Jacobs – Christmas Alphabet
David Arkenstone – I Saw Three Ships
June Christy – Winter’s Got Spring Up Its Sleeve
Ferrante & Teicher – Toyland, Toyland
Mills Brothers – On This Christmas Eve
Diplomats/USAF – The White World of Winter
Brook Benton – This Time of the Year
Paul Mauriat – Gloria, In Excelsis Deo
Vaughn Monroe – Snowy White Sone and Jingle Bells
Andre Rieu – Christmas Rose
Howdy Doody & The Fontane Sisters – Howdy Doody Christmas
Craig Raymond – Jingle Ballads
Louis Armstrong – Christmas Night In Harlem
Alain Morisod – Angels We Have Heard On High
Mel Blanc – I Just Tan’t Wait Till Quithmuth
Theater of Voices – Paul Hillier – Here We Come A-Wassailing
Lou Rawls – Merry Christmas, Baby
Billy Eckstine – Christmas Eve
The Echelons – A Christmas Long Ago (Jingle, Jingle)
Benny Goodman – Santa Claus Came In The Spring
Gatemouth Moore – Christmas Blues
Louis Jordan – May Every Day Be Christmas
Francis Goya – Petit Papa Noel
Judy Garland – The Star Of the East
Sammy Davis Jr. – Christmas Time All Over the World
Songcastle Orchestra – It Must Have Been the Mistletoe
Pearl Bailey – Five Pound Box Of Money
Dick Haymes – Santa Claus is Ridin’ The Trail