A Christmas Jukebox
Ten songs that'll shake, rattle and roll those boring carols out of your head.
Ugh, Christmas music! I’ve had enough!
It’s always the same songs—Wham! and Mariah Carey and Michael Bublé. I can’t buy groceries without an accompaniment of belted-out holiday cheer over the tinny sound system. Sure, it’s an old complaint. In fact, that’s the problem. Nothing changes! Another winter with the same songs stuck in my head. I like Christmas. I like music. Those two things shouldn’t be in conflict with each other. And I *want* to be merry about the holiday. I hate that I’m always complaining at this time of year.
So no more complaining! This year, I sought out some Christmas tunes that don’t make me miserable. These are songs I *wish* I could hear in the stores and the dentist’s waiting room. They change my whole attitude toward the holiday. And, because it’s the giving season, I thought I’d put them on the jukebox to share with all of you.
(The full playlists are at the bottom of the page.)
Happy Holidays, everybody! —Tonya M
It’s Christmas Time by The Qualities (1960)
Is there anything more joyful than this song? These guys are slightly more deranged than your average doo-wop group (Sun Ra is involved, so that’s sort of inevitable), but they’re deranged in a fun, silly way and the melody is surprisingly lovely. I’ve been humming it all day and it still makes me smile.
Mambo, Santa, Mambo! by The Enchanters (1957)
Another upbeat doo-wop number (with a Spanish twist) from Detroit group The Enchanters. You will get it stuck in your head. You’re welcome.
Ole Santa by Dinah Washington (1959)
Let’s take a slower pace now. The relaxing voice of Dinah Washington pairs well with an easy chair, a glass of eggnog, and a sparkling tree. If you have a fireplace handy, this is your song.
All I Want for Christmas Is You by Buck Owens (1965)
Sure, it’s maudlin. Buck is definitely the saddest buckaroo at the Christmas party. But I’d take it over Mariah Carey any day.
Silent Night by Nina Kealiiwahamana
Okay, you know this song. Or do you? Somehow, sung in Hawaiian language and accompanied by a Hawaiian lap steel, it’s an enchanting new experience. Can’t find a date for the recording, so if anyone else finds it, let me know.
Sleigh Bells Dub by Roots Radics and The Carpenters
Prepare yourself for a funky departure from the Christmas norm. In this number, Roots Radics, a legendary dub outfit, blends the classic “Sleigh Bells” (sung by Karen Carpenter) with some surprisingly welcome Jamaican rhythms. As far as I can tell, this only exists on Youtube. Sometimes the internet has its uses.
Christmas Tears by Freddie King (1961)
Do you have the Christmas Blues? If you do, Freddie King will suit you just fine. Freddie was one of the greatest blues guitarists of all time, with a big, soulful voice to match. This song moans like no other Christmas hit.
I’d Like You for Christmas by Julie London (1957)
Julie London is in her own class. The woman with the voice like honey will take you straight into the midcentury cocktail party of your Christmas dreams. What’s that? Your Christmas dreams don’t look like a cocktail party? They will. Just listen.
Christmas In New Orleans by Louis Armstrong, Benny Carter & His Orchestra (1955)
It really isn’t a holiday of any kind without Louis Armstrong. He’s at his big-band best here, calling everybody down to the town where Magnolia trees shine bright and Santa leads a Creole band…
Santa Claus Is Back in Town by Elvis Presley (1957)
It’s Elvis. ‘Nuff said. Crank the volume and swivel your hips around the living room. If this doesn’t give you the Christmas spirit, nothing will.
Click HERE for the full “Juke Christmas” Youtube Playlist.
Or you can play it on Spotify…
(minus the Karen Carpenter dub, which isn’t available on Spotify. In its place is a James Brown song that is equally worthy of ‘cult holiday classic’ status.)
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Thank You !
Frank, Dean & Sammy have their place but this music is is for 2022 !
Have a wonderful Christmas this year and a fun year for You & Juke in 2023. !