BUT! If I turn on the radio and hear Elvis singing "Blue Christmas"--well, it's a good thing I don't carry a handgun in the car or my radio would be full of bullet holes. And you know that whiny "Last Christmas" song? I always want to insert new lyrics:
Last Christmas I gave you chlamydiaYes: I hate that song that much. And don't even get me started on "Santa Baby."
The very next day you gave it away...
I love to hear just about anyone singing "Silent Night," even a children's choir singing it hopelessly off key (or especially a children's choir singing hopelessly off key). But Stevie Nicks singing "Silent Night"? The aural equivalent of waterboarding.
I'm not sure why my responses are so extreme, but I know that wandering through Wal-Mart is hazardous this time of year because they can't be counted on to avoid the songs that make me want to scream. So as an antidote to horrible holiday songs, I keep my favorites close by. I figure listening to the songs I love is a far better response than shooting out my radio. Here are my top ten:
10. Jose Feliciano, "Feliz Navidad." Limited lyrics and repetitive tune but it makes me want to dance.
9. "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is a tough call because when it's bad it's really, really bad, but no one does it better than Straight No Chaser.
8. Hark how the bells, sweet silver bells, all seem to say, "Throw cares away"--and I do whenever I hear "Carol of the Bells." I can listen to just about any version with pleasure, but the two I can't live without are performed by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and (I'm embarrassed to admit how much I love this) John Tesh.
7. Ottmar Liebert playing "The First Noel." Starts slowly but gets really fun fairly quickly.
6. "Sleigh Ride" by virtually anyone, from the college band to the Boston Pops. I like the version by the Ronettes, but I will even listen to Johnny Mathis if he's singing "Sleigh Ride."
5. I'm not a huge fan of "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen," but when that folksy version by Barenaked Ladies comes on the radio, it brings me comfort and joy.
4. "Christmas Canon" by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. So simple. So sweet. So Christmas.
3. "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," especially when sung a capella. It's one of the oldest hymns in the hymnal and it's in a minor key, but it nevertheless fills me with hope.
2. Anyone singing "O Holy Night" at a Christmas Eve service, especially my daughter.
1. "Joy to the World" sung by any congregation anywhere. I can't hit the high notes, but I take comfort in knowing that I'm not the only one. It's sort of like singing the national anthem--being there is more important than doing it well.