It’s just what you wanted! And you’ve been such good fervent readers, yes you have. And so patient.

But here’s the thing. We have a family tradition in the Boy household. Nobody opens any presents until breakfast is over and the dishes are cleaned and put away and Mom and Grandma have to catch up on all the family gossip except we would never call it gossip but it’s always “Oh did you hear about so and so? Well God bless them they got caught doing this or that.” “No really? Well we will just have to keep them in prayer tell me more” and us kids would just have to sit and look at the tree and wait and wait and wait…..

All that is to say that we have to do some housecleaning to do before you can open up your #1 present.

And no fair scrolling down either.

I mean it 😡

OK, here’s the rest of the Good Song Countdown:

12. Good King Wenceslas – Just a great carol with a great message.

11. Happy Holiday/The Holiday Season – A surprisingly hip song considering Andy Williams and the Osmonds are involved.

10. Do You Hear What I Hear? – Another timeless one with a timeless message.

9. White Christmas – It just hwouldn’t be Christmas hwithout it.

8. Do They Know It’s Christmas? by Band Aid – I know some people don’t dig this song like I do, but I stand by it. Euromullets and all.

7. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) by John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir – Whatever, Yoko Oh No. It’s still a great song.

6. I’ll Be Home for Christmas – Love it…and if you go to the post today I’ll throw in two (2) extra songs!

5. The Twelve Days of Christmas – Five gold things!!!!!

4. Linus and Lucy by Vince Guaraldi Trio – C’mon!

3. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel – Sadness with more than a touch of hope mixed in. Like really dark chocolate.

2. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day – Also from a deep well of sadness comes one of our most beautiful and hopeful songs of the season.

Of course there are so many good Christmas songs that I couldn’t fit them all on one list. So here are some of my also rans:

In my list of also bad songs I included all versions of Sleigh Ride except for one. I know that you are all waiting anxiously to find out which version I will allow. That version would be by The Ronettes. In the early 60s, before Phil Spector became known as a murderer in a fright wig, he was a great record producer with a stable of groups that he produced. In 1963 he released the album A Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records (later re-released as A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector). That album has this version that wisely gets rid of all the “Farmer Grey” and “Currier and Ives” hokum and lays on the “ring a ling a ling a ding dong ding” along with Spector’s classic wall of sound. I’ve never understood what the “wall of sound” was, but it always sounds impressive when you bring it up in conversation with music types. “Yes, well, nobody but The Philster (that’s what we call him, The Philster) was ever able to duplicate the wall of sound.” Anyway, you may listen to this version and this version only. All others are forbidden.

As far as classic carols go, you’ve gotta love O Little Town of Bethlehem, O Come All Ye Faithful, come to think of it there are a couple of other “O” songs in my countdown. You know…I wonder if you add “O” to the front of a bad song if it makes it tolerable. O Christmas Shoes? O Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer? Nope…doesn’t work.

I’ve always loved Feliz Navidad by José Feliciano. Or maybe I just get a warm feeling from the time when I got a group of carolers to sing the line “próspero año y felicidad” as “watch Rio Hondo with Anwar Sadat.” Because that’s always what it sounded like José was singing. Maybe you had to be there.

Another fave that I don’t hear much anymore is The Waitresses’ Christmas Wrapping from 1981. Also cool is the Hanukkah version from Save Ferris.

Then, of course, there’s The Boss. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band‘s version of Santa Claus Is Coming to Town is a classic for my generation. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find a link to the version you hear on the radio, where Bruce asks the band if they’ve “been good and practicing real hard this year,” then asks Clarence Clemons if he’s hoping Santa will bring him a new saxophone. My favorite part is at the end when he gets so tickled at Santa’s (I suspect also Clarence) “ho ho ho” that he can barely sing. Love it to death. If I ever find the link in the future I’ll post it here.

One thing that my list is sadly short of is Ol’ Blue Eyes. Oh I’m sure the Chairman of the Board sang some of these songs; he’s the Chairman of the damn Board, he does what he wants. Capiche? Or do I need to give you a complimentary kneecap adjustment?

I went there, sorry.

What was I saying? Oh…I’m sure Frank sang some of these songs, but he wasn’t particularly known for any of them. One of the songs he is better known for is Mistletoe and Holly:

Oh, by gosh, by golly
It’s time for mistletoe and holly
Tasty pheasants, Christmas presents
Countrysides covered with snow

Oh, by gosh, by jingle
It’s time for carols and Kris Kringle
Overeating, merry greetings
From relatives you don’t know

A little silly maybe but it’s got a nice little semi-ironic thing going for it. And here’s the beauty part: For those of other religions or traditions, the lyrics can be easily adapted to suit other holidays. For example:

Oy gevalt, groz-shnaydel
It’s time to spin the dreidel

See how well this works? Let’s try some more, shall we?

Oh, by gosh, by glitter
It’s time for Eid ul-Fitr

Oh, by gosh, by gouda
It’s time to celebrate the enlightenment of the Buddha

It even works for less popular religions:

Oh, by gosh, by glicken
It’s time to sacrifice a chicken

Oh, by gosh, by gulu
It’s time to awaken Cthulhu

Well, you get the picture.

OK, enough jibber jabber. Now here’s our #1. The absolute bestest Christmas song is….

Super mega Rambo drum roll……

I’ve noted in the last couple of good song posts that many of the really great Christmas song emanate from a place of sadness, a bittersweet place. Well, not this one. This one is pure joy. The joy that can only come from the heart and soul of a child.

I have my tweep Teri to thank for turning me on to this song last year, the minute I watched the video I knew it was going to be the #1 song on my countdown. I didn’t get around to finishing it last year 😦 but nothing I’ve heard in the past year has knocked it off of the #1 spot:

O Holy Night by The PS22 Chorus

Music: Adolphe-Charles Adam (1803-1856)
Original Lyrics: Placide Cappeau (1808-1877), 1847; Translated from French to English by John Sullivan Dwight (1813-1893)

If you’re not familiar with PS22, it’s a public school In Staten Island, NY that has a kick-ass choir of fifth graders under the direction of Gregg Breinberg (the kids call him Mr. B).

OK. I know…they changed the lyrics. Get over it!

See the “PS” in PS22? That stands for public school. Understand the times we are living in. All it takes is one irate parent to make a phone call and it’s game over for this chorus.

Some might say – and many do if you read the comments on the video – that this is all part of an anti-Christian conspiracy, it’s all part of a liberal agenda to make everything politically correct, it’s all part of the war on CHRISTmas. But I challenge you to listen to the song again. The kids sing “O holy night…O night divine.” Who do you think they’re singing about? The Divine Miss M? Divine the guy who ate poo in Pink Flamingos?

I put myself in the shoes of one of these kid’s parents. If Boodles was in this chorus, would I rather have her sing the original lyrics? Of course. I also would be quite happy if they then sang a Hanukkah song, then a Ramadan song, and on and on. But not all parents feel that way. Some might be genuinely offended to have their child sing a song associated with a religion that hasn’t always been a very good example of Christ’s love throughout history.

But look again at these kid’s faces. See the diversity, see the unbridled joy and dramatics that they put into it. These kids will NEVER forget singing this song and others that they do. These kids have performed on national TV, even on Fox News (war on Christmas my ass). They’ve sang for and with Tori Amos, President Obama, and Lady Gaga (I hope she wore pants). Would you deprive them of that? If so then you’re Scroogier than Scrooge at his Scroogiest.

Well, there it is. My countdown. Again, I hope you enjoyed it. I live for your comments even if you vehemently disagree with me. I would love to hear what good and bad songs you think I missed.

And since I made you wait sooooooooooo long for your present, here’s an adorable puppy:

Just what I wanted, originally uploaded by shplusea.


2 thoughts on “The 12 Good Songs of Christmas: #1

  1. I love that triumphant look of Mr B at the end of the video! Wish he would have been my 5th grade teacher. The compromised lyrics – it makes for an interesting topic. Would you rather have pristinely pure and unadulterated lyrics sung by semi-bored children who look emotionally detached, or would you rather have them sing their heart out over something they can grasp and believe in? Kudus to Mr. B for instilling passion for musical expression.
    By the way, Joe, this post came just before Ukrainian Christmas, so you were well on time!

    • Crystal, you said it better than I did. Yes, I love Mr. B’s enthusiastic spazz out. His students are very blessed.
      And thanks for the info on Ukrainian Christmas, I am now a big fan of…um…Ukrainia ?

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