December 2011 Pick Six: Christmas Songs
Way back when I was a kid and more interested in early 80s rock bands, I was “subjected” to all kinds of country music by parents while sitting on the pleather back seat of our family’s baby blue Lincoln Continental. Nowadays, those same songs bring me great comfort and memories of those special days. Nelson’s version of “Pretty Paper” is one of those songs that instantly bring me back. –Ken Morton, Jr.
While I don’t normally associate Christmas with shots of whiskey and swinging bar doors, I gladly honky-tonk up my holiday tunes. Alan Jackson’s Honky Tonk Christmas fits the bill with country weepers, a Merle Haggard cover and a previously taped track with Keith Whitley. My favorite tune on the album is “I Only Want You for Christmas,” because it ties together Jackson’s signature humor and charisma in one neat (red and green) package — and reminds me of nineties-era Christmas mornings when my biggest concern was which Barbie Dream House Santa had delivered my way. – Karlie Justus
Yeah, the Rockwell-esque Christmas Day scenes are all well and good, but they’re hardly realistic. It’s much more likely to find some uncle passed out on the recliner in front of the TV, relatives that you’re not sure how you’re related to and all the assorted griping and sniping that comes with holiday stress. Robert Earl Keen’s whacked-out masterpiece celebrates the warts-and-all spirit of Christmas. — Sam Gazdziak
5. Alan Jackson — “Silent Night”
With the hectic pace of the holidays, it’s difficult to find time to appreciate the ample blessings in our lives. Regardless of singer or genre, “Silent Night” always radiates with a graceful calm and reinforces the special bond between mother and child. In our mile-a-minute world, the song is a quiet plea for peace and comfort. — Blake Boldt
Aside from the fact that our ceramic, illuminated Christmas village always has a red-light district, we’re much for tradition in my family: for Christmas dinner as a kid I’d often end up chowing down puri and shaak made by my Indian grandmother rather than ham or turkey. This is probably why Fleck’s version of the otherwise execrable “Jingle Bells” appeals to me. It’s recognizable as the Christmas classic, but the Tuvan throat-singing (from Alash) and jazz banjo make it weird and wonderful, just like those Christmases as a kid. — Juli Thanki
- bob: Thanks Barry. Just reserved the Adam Gussow book. Sounds interesting.
- Barry Mazor: It may be over-stated, in arriving at practically a single explanation of everything, but Adam Gussow's book on lynching and …
- Leeann: Wow! Heavy topic and horrifying indeed! "Beer for My Horses" was all fun and games until that reference, I'll have …
- Barry Mazor: Everything else aside, the way that reporter fills us in, with must-have, pointless generational snark included, about who this "Little …
- luckyoldsun: "The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia" seems to be about a lynching--even if there's something about a judge …
- Arlene: Sorry. I meant to give the link for "Supper Time." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZ58Kfe41kI
- Arlene: Another song sung by Ethel Waters: Irving Berlin's "Supper Time"
- bob: Powerful songs. I read the book "A Lynching in the Heartland" by James H. Madison about a dozen years ago. …
- Ron: Sky Above, Mud Below by Tom Russell is another.
- Jack Williams: Another Othis Taylor song from White African is "My Soul's in Louisiana."