By BETH BRESNAHAN
I don’t want a lot for Christmas, except maybe to not hear Mariah Carey belt out All I Want For Christmas on repeat everywhere I go for the few hours remaining in this holiday season.
And it seems, I’m not alone in my sentiment.
After 21 years of topping the holiday music charts, the modern yuletide classic is no longer the most-played Christmas song in stores.
A report released by PlayNetwork, a company that compiles the holiday playlists for hundreds of retailers every year, revealed that the megahit was pushed out of the top spot this year and into the number 2 ranking by The Shins’ cover of Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmastime. But Mariah fans out there need not worry – All I Want For Christmas still reigns supreme on Billboard’s Holiday 100 list (which explains why I am hearing it on the radio at least twice every morning during my four mile drive to work).
While admittedly I am not much of a Mariah Carey fan regardless of what season it is, I do love holiday music because hearing particular songs evoke wonderful thoughts of Christmases past.
Bing Crosby’s White Christmas album and the song Feliz Navidad conjure up memories of holiday celebrations as far back as the late ‘70’s. And while I don’t remember every detail (not for reasons many don’t remember that decade — I was no older than three or four at the time), I can vividly remember family Christmas Eve gatherings at my great-grandmother’s apartment in St. Stephen’s Tower. Those tunes that played on an old record player served as the soundtrack to her annual party. Nanny Mooney sat in her big green velvet wingback chair and sang along with Bing, while my young cousins and I danced to Jose Feliciano as he melodically wished us a Merry Christmas from the bottom of his heart.
As I grew a bit older, I’d anxiously wait for the classic Christmas TV specials to air. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and A Charlie Brown Christmas were, and still are after more than 35 years, amongst my favorites to watch each holiday season and even more so to sing along to. In fact, You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch and Vince Guaraldi’s Linus and Lucy are year-round staples in my iTunes playlist.
And then there are the modern spins on classic carols and holiday standards that helped get me through countless hours of ringing in sales and folding sweaters at the seasonal retail jobs I worked after school, during college holiday breaks and then into my mid 20’s. Some of those songs that played over the stores’ loudspeakers still haunt me like the ghosts of Christmases past (try listening to Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer even once, let alone 32 times, during an 8-hour period and then tell me how you feel about the silly tune).
However, there were many other songs that I was introduced to at that time, like Stevie Wonder’s Motown classic What Christmas Means to Me, Darlene Love’s Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), RUN-DMC’s Christmas in Hollis, and Donny Hathaway’s This Christmas, which will forever be my all-time favorites because they remind me of those holiday seasons during which I reached life milestones: buying gifts for family members with money earned from those retail paychecks, putting up a beautifully-decorated tree in my first apartment where I hosted the first of many Christmas parties and dinners, and meeting amazing coworkers who I am lucky to still call close friends.
Over the years I have compiled these songs that bring special meaning to my Christmas revelries and annually burn CDs that I distribute to family and friends in lieu of sending cards. My favorites are always on there, but I always add new songs each year to hopefully build new memories around. It isn’t much, but simply a token of appreciation and acknowledgment to those who receive one that they, like the songs, are part of what makes this time of year so meaningful to me.
I would like to be able to make every Item reader a copy of this year’s Christmas CD because you’ve truly helped make the last few months of my career special – really, the best yet.
Unfortunately, if I did so Apple Music/iTunes would likely have me jailed for violating their terms of service. So instead, I’m sharing the playlist below for you to enjoy while you and your loved ones celebrate this season and make Christmas memories of your very own.
Track 1: White Christmas – Bing Crosby
Track 2: Feliz Navidad – Jose Feliciano
Track 3: Linus and Lucy – Vince Guaraldi
Track 6: This Christmas – Donny Hathaway
Track 7: Mary’s Boy Child – Boney M.
Track 10: O Holy Night – Tracy Chapman
Track 11: Elf’s Lament – Barenaked Ladies
Track 13: Someday at Christmas – The Jackson 5
Track 14: Christmas in Hollis – RUN-DMC
Beth Bresnahan is CEO of The Item. She can be reached at: [email protected]