We may be lacking in the snow department around here, but with choice Christmastime tunes, you can still make your island holiday plenty bright. A few favorite yuletide numbers, as selected by Monthly writers.
VINCE GUARALDI TRIO, ‘A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS’ ON REPEAT
In what’s become a legendary television goof, CBS originally gave Guaraldi’s pitch-perfect and snowfall-soft soundtrack an ungracious thumbs-down (along with the entire special inexplicably), but four decades later, nearly everything here — especially “Skating,” “Greensleeves” and the hastily assembled “Christmas Time Is Here” — has become required listening. (A wonderful 2006 reissue cleaned up the sound and added alternate takes of four tracks, well worth the upgrade).
THE BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA, ‘GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN’
In 2003, the long-running group of seventysomethings released “Go Tell It On The Mountain,” a completely enchanting holiday collection that features an incredible list of guests and friends: Chrissie Hynde steps in on a brittle, beautiful version of “In The Bleak Midwinter,” Aaron Neville lends his angelic voice to “Joy To The World” and Tom Waits, of all people, applies his dirt-road growl to a version of the title track that manages to be both uplifting and slightly terrifying.
BING CROSBY AND DAVID BOWIE, ‘PEACE ON EARTH/THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY’
One of the oddest duets in music history, it’s also a simple little song that says it all for the holidays and beyond to me. It always reminds me to slow down and remember what matters. Even though it’s a little weird.
MARIAH CAREY: ‘ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU’
Fast enough to dance to. And if you play it loud enough you can convince yourself that you’re actually hitting those high notes.