Reporter's Note: President Obama is pretty busy so I suspect he’s had little time to pull out his Christmas music collection, but no fear…in this installment of my letters to the White House I come riding down from Mt. Crumpet cheerily blowing Who Who on my trumpet.
Tom Foreman | BIO
Dear Mr. President,
I am writing this onboard the train heading back to DC from New York after a week of work that felt like a month. I don’t know what it is about December, but even without the holidays, it would always be the single busiest month of the year for me. I suppose it is all those end-of-the-year projects coupled with all the folks who take time off. Slackers.
In the midst of all the work, one thing I really enjoy is Christmas music. I know, I know, you’re saying, “Who doesn’t?” But I think my interest runs a bit higher than most. I can’t put a figure on the number of Christmas recordings I have, but it is fairly impressive. Everything from punk rock anthems, to classic Andrews Sisters, to jazz renditions of eggnog rockers, to novelty hits, to Jimi Hendrix grinding out The Little Drummer Boy.
So I thought, since you are busy jetting around and picking up bling from the Swedes, you might appreciate a playlist of some of my favorites, in no particular order. Feel free to share it with your friends.
1. Fairytale of New York by the Pogues: A fitting starting place, considering my travel this week. This is just a magnificent tune. Unexpected, heartbreaking, rollicking and wonderful; filled with both the love and loss of the season. Maybe I have too much Irish in me; it makes me tear up every time.
2. 2000 Miles by the Pretenders: Some might not consider this a real Christmas song, but who cares? I first listened to it on a handheld cassette recorder on a bootleg tape while driving in my Chevy Biscayne through the Alabama night to join the family after working all day on Christmas Eve, late lights twinkling in every little town I passed.
3. Christmas in Hollis by Run-D.M.C.: Just a rocking great tune for the season. Liked it first time I heard it, and still do. “Rest in peace, Jam-Master Jay.”
4. I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas by Gayla Peevey: Totally goofy, and to be frank, I’m not a big fan of 10-year-olds with recording careers, (except Michael Jackson, and he’s gone) but it was a long time ago. In a complete Niles Crane moment I translated this song into French a few years ago just before my family went to Paris at Christmas and we confused a cabbie by singing it lustily while careening through the arrondissements.
5. Pastorales de Noel by Rampal, Legoya, and Legrand: Ok, I’m cheating here because this is an entire album, but it’s just lovely; classical with accessibility.
6. Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley: Doo doo doo doo do. “Hey, Priscilla, do we have any tape and some ribbon?”
7. Christmastime is Here by Gatsby’s American Dream: Yes, I like the original from the Charlie Brown show too, but it doesn’t hurt to update now and then.
8. I’ll Be Home for Christmas by anyone. Lately the new version by Bob Dylan has been lighting me up, but plenty of others have made this one as cool as the other side of the pillow.
9. Shouldn’t Have Given Him a Gun for Christmas by Wall of Voodoo: Noel tune aficionados may notice that a fair number of my choices come from two tres cool collections; A Santa Cause and Just Can’t Get Enough-New Wave Christmas. Both great additions to any holiday collection.
10. Blue Yule by various artists: I’m cheating again because this is a whole collection, but what a great one! I love the blues at Christmas; can’t even say why, and oddly enough, they just make me feel delighted. Go figure. But c’mon..Santa’s Messin’ With the Kid; Christmas Day…jamming tunes.
I’ve left too many out, (just thought about Christmas Bop by T-Rex; would it even be a holiday without that one? And Back Door Santa by Clarence Carter! And That Punchbowl Full of Joy by Del Fuegos!) and I’m leaning toward a rocking mood at the moment, so I probably skipped some of the more plaintive possibilities, but hopefully this gets you started. Maybe I’ll do another list in a few days. Call if you need me to burn a disc or you; it’s past-tech, but I’ll do it. It’s the season of sharing. Happy Hanukkah, btw!
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