December 22nd, 2010
11:30 AM ET

Letters to the President: #702 “My favorite Christmas tune … uh … this year'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: The White House probably has a good sound system. I mean, wouldn’t you think?

Dear Mr. President,

It occurs to me that while South Korean karaoke may be a lot of fun, in North Korea I suspect it is a little less jolly since every singer no doubt starts by saying, “Oh yes, I too would like to sing Hail to Our Glorious Leader!” Probably gets a little monotonous.

I mention it because I am a music lover, and at this time of year I find myself particularly aware of all the melodic possibilities. You know about my wide-ranging collection of most excellent and avant garde Christmas tunes, but each time the month of mistletoe arises, I just loved reeling through some of my favorites.

If it’s rocking you are after, you could do a lot worse than cuing up the bouncy Christmas Bop by T-Rex to get your party going. Toss in some rip-roaring Punk Rock Christmas by The Ravers, Land of the Glass Pinecones by Human Sexual Response (and yes, I know this is not truly an “according to Hoyle” Christmas song, in the same sense that 2000 Miles by Pretenders and River by Joni Mitchell are not precisely Yule fodder…but hey, I’m taking a little license here..) and of course the ever wonderful Fairy Tale of New York by the Pogues. As an aside, I should add that I have lately grown terribly fond of Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis. But then, honestly, can you ever go wrong with Tom Waits?

I could list all of the pure pop-rock entries, but heck we all know them by heart and everyone has his or her favorite, so why bother?

I have a number of Blues and Soul collections. Back Door Santa by Clarence Carter and Christmas Day by Detroit Junior are just great, (not to be confused with Christmas Day by Squeeze, which is a wholly different animal, but also enjoyable…) as is I’ll be Home for Christmas by The Pilgrim Travelers.

You can find plenty of reggae Christmas collections and they can be fun for a while, but just as it is with bluegrass, or so-called “Celtic” stuff, don’t overdo it. Remember, it’s all good fun until someone forgets that Irving Berlin had real talent, and these guys… uh…don’t.

I still enjoy the rarely heard, classically-tinged Pastorales de Noel with Rampal, Lagoya and Legrand. Really great stuff. A Dave Brubeck Christmas is always worth a listen.
I’ve been pretty amused by Sirius radio pushing Dominick the Donkey this year, by Lou Monte. And a few relatively new entries have made it onto my honorable mentions list: Stuck at the Airport by Money Mark among them.

Oh, and I should mention a really old one called Christmas Tree from an old album which I believe was called Voices of Christmas. It also has a song called Christmas Gift which I just loooovvvveedd as a kid. A complete hoot.

Take a little time if you can and Google them up. You’ll find a good number of them as sound files so you can give a listen, or go straight to iTunes and download the whole bunch. Actually, I suppose some of them are just not available anymore…but give it a shot. If you come up short, I’ll burn a disc for you.

Call if you can.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

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