In celebration of the season, I spoke to some of our fine area music talent to find out what their favorite holiday tunes are. Maybe you'll find a personal fave among the eclectic seasonal musical fare found below:
Jared Nicholas Mondell of 44 Mag
Christmas is my favorite time of year for music. You get to listen to tunes that you have not heard for a year (and by the time they start to annoy you they are gone for another year).
Jimmy Lovcik performs.
Narrowing it down to just a few is a hard task (and I know I am missing some) but here are my top five Christmas tunes that have been getting me through this holiday season in no particular order:
"Back Door Santa" by Clarence Carter.
Bruce Springsteen's version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."
"Christmas in Hollis" by Run DMC.
Stevie Wonder's "What Christmas Means to Me."
And of course, the track that no Christmas song list would be complete without, "Jingle This" by Tony Harlan. Honorable mentions include "No Presents for Christmas" by Mercyful Fate and "Mistress for Christmas" by AC/DC.
Alex Callenberger of Clawfoot
Album - Vince Guaraldi Trio, "A Charlie Brown Christmas."
The holidays at its finest with Charlie Brown.
Song - Frank Zappa "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow."
Very important lesson to all children during the holidays.
Video - GWAR sings Christmas carols.
I wish GWAR would sing Christmas carols at my door step.
Song - Monty Python "Christmas in Heaven."
Monty Python rocks.
Zac Baggett of Zac Baggett and Isaiah Britton
"Jingle Bells" by Bing Crosby with the Andrews sisters.
Reminds me of a home movie that we have when my brother and I were kids and we danced about as hard as two toddlers possibly could.
"Hark the Herald Angels Sing."
The folk group at my church (Mariah's Mantle) would bring a drum set in around Christmas and do an awesome version of that song along with many others. Annunciation was rocking at Christmas mass!
"It Feels Like Christmas" from "A Muppet Christmas Carol."
Great version of Christmas carol. Greater song.
"You're A Mean One Mr. Grinch."
The lyrics are perfect and the voice of Thurl Ravenscroft makes it one of the more unique songs you will ever hear.
Mallory Scoppa of Mal Scoppa & The Tall Tales
I have been known, like many, to bust out Vince Guaraldi's "Charlie Brown Christmas" album while I bake cookies and wrap presents. I love listening to Bing Crosby's Christmas classics like "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "Walking In A Winter Wonderland." They are fun and I am a sucker for that romantic voice!
Caleb Banas of
Ten Cent Days
Actually, I do love the melody to "Silent Night." I love "We Three Kings" as performed by Lena Yeagle, Val, Erin LaCerra and Antares J. Barr a couple years ago.
Doug McMinn of Lumpy Gravy, Black 'N Blues, Mel Mounds
1. "Happy Xmas (War is Over)," John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
This has a cute Christmas vibe while carrying some true Christmas spirit (PEACE!).
2. "Merry Christmas Baby," the original version by Charles Brown.
Sly, lascivious yuletide sentiments by the great rhythm and bluesman.
3. Williamsport Musicians Performing "We Three Kings" (available on YouTube).
Lena Yeagle, Antares Barr, Val LaCerra and Erin LaCerra purvey a gorgeous rendition of one of my favorite hymns, which was written right here in Billtown in 1853.
4. "Santa Baby," by Eartha Kitt.
This is the gold-digger's version of the Christmas story. Sexy, too.
5. "The Christmas Song," as sung by its author, Mel Torme.
Props go to Nat Cole's version, but the Velvet Fog wrote it and owned it.
Jimmy Lovcik of Dirty Nickels, Mel Mounds, Mal Scoppa & The Tall Tales
The Badlees incredible cover of the Heat Miser song from the old '70s television children's classic "The Year Without A Santa Claus" always gets me in the mood. The rock radio station in Harrisburg puts it in the annual holiday rotation and I always hear it at least once a winter.
John O. Shively of Mal Scoppa and the Tall Tales, JOD and Cardinal Sims
I am a fan of the classics - anything pre-1980 is what I'd prefer to listen to if I had to pick.
My favorite Christmas album of the past few years happens to be "Merry Christmas" by The Mills Brothers. It's some of my favorite tunes played with a guitar-driven, golden-oldies feel. It's still my go-to album for the holidays.
My favorite Christmas song was too easy to pick: "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" is a perfectly sad song. I like surreal versions of this tune - it's so good that it's hard to make it sound bad.
Sue Bloom of Sue Bloom Band
I love the spirit of the holidays and have very fond memories of Christmases past.
I remember one of my first albums was a Christmas album by Perry Como.
The first song on the side A was "The Little Drummer Boy." My memories of that song had been played over and over and over.
Helping with decorating, wrapping presents or, with my pink hair brush in my hand (my microphone, of course), just belting out those majestic lyrics: "Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum, A newborn King to see, pa rum pum pum pum ... " I believe the lyrics consist of over 21 "rum pum pum pum" 's.
As my interest in music grew, I developed a great appreciation for "O Holy Night."
This is certainly at the top of my list of Christmas songs. The song begins and as it continues it starts to build up and climbs to "Fall on your knees" with such power, passion and conviction. Martina McBride's vocals move me to where I find myself caught up in this beautiful and passionate hymn.
From a more contemporary style, my favorite holiday song comes from folk-soft rock artist Dan Fogelberg.
"Same Old Lang Syne" is a classic song. Everytime I hear this song on the radio during the holiday season, this song brings a tear to my eye. As I listen to the lyrics, I fall back and imagine myself exactly where the song was meant to take you.
Alex Boyce of
1. The Vandals, "Get A Gun for Christmas."
This song may be considered taboo these days, but that's why I like it so much. It's childish and fun and throws the stress and anxiety that comes with Christmas to the wind. I think everyone should love it.
2. The Ramones, "Merry Christmas."
This one is somewhat the opposite of the previous because it's more about putting aside the violence and fighting and coming together.
Though this one strikes me as a more anti-domestic violence song, I think its message can apply to most at this time of year.
3. Adam Sandler, "The Hanukkah Song."
Everyone knows this song and just like Adam Sandler, you like it or you hate it. But it's the only Hanukkah song I can think of. Plus it's hilarious.
4. "Santa Baby."
This is my serious note. Many artists have done "Santa Baby" and I've heard it more times than I care to, but I'm a sucker for a sexy voice and this one always kills.
5. Ray Charles, "Baby, It's Cold Outside."
Another song that's overplayed and overdone by too many artists. Fortunately, the Ray Charles version is somewhat less played but by far the best ever.
"River" by Joni Mitchell. The first few bars hint subtly at "Jingle Bells" and then opens out into a song so poignant and personal. The lyrics parallel the music in this way - the words invoke Christmas imagery ("It's coming on Christmas, they're cutting down trees ") before narrowing their focus to more intimate ideas ("I wish I had a river I could skate away on ").
"Christmas Card from a Hooker In Minneapolis" by Tom Waits.
Great blues piano chops accompany a heartbreaking set of lyrics from a bittersweet love letter. Somehow, the optimism of it all keeps this tune upbeat! Our circumstances shape our hopes and dreams and the big reveal at the end of this song illustrates that pretty vividly.
"Christmas Time Is Here" by Vince Guaraldi (from the Charlie Brown Christmas Soundtrack).
A familiar tune to many of us, but I think great jazz changes and a gentle tempo take this tune off the beaten path of poppier holiday songs. The harmonies in this tune have a placid, pensive sort of serenity, and you don't hear Christmas played quite that way anywhere else.
"God Bless Ye Merry Gentlemen" by the Barenaked Ladies. I love the way these guys swing this tune a little. Their arrangement has an up-tempo "minor swing" feel that brings in the relative major chord at the chorus to give the whole thing a playful lift.
Also love to hear my 5-year-old daughter listen to Run DMC's "Christmas in Hollis" on repeat. She just discovered it this year and it's fun for us to school her in the classics!