The Songs No iPod Should Be Without


Wow! It’s really almost Christmas…  and yes, as promised, this column will feature holiday songs. They may not be the definitive versions of these songs, but they are, in my opinion, essential. So, here they are.
121. Christmas Dream – Perry Como
What you expected every Christmas song I list to be pop or rock? I’ve written this before and I’ll write it again. Great music is not defined by its genre. It’s defined by its ability to move the listener. This one definitely does. According to Jim from Westfield, who suggested it, the song comes from a movie about Nazi-hunting in Germany. Very cool. Hey it’s even got a pedigree – it was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by and Tim Rice.
Recommended version can be found on: Original Soundtrack Music From The Odessa File (MCA, 1974)
122. Do They Know Its Christmas? – Band Aid
This is the song that transformed Bob Geldof from a musician into Sir Bob. The song was performed by a charity supergroup featuring leading British and Irish musicians and recording artists. Written by Geldof (Boomtown Rats) and Midge Ure (Ultravox) to raise money for anti-poverty efforts in Ethiopia, the song reappears every holiday season and will for some time to come. It also spawned Live Aid.
Recommended version can be found on: You Tube where the original video resides at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EJWEXrykdQ
123: Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms
If you haven’t heard this song umpteen times you’re just not paying attention. Everybody knows it; everybody realizes that once they hear it, the Christmas holiday has been ushered in and it’s here to stay. It’s been used in tons of movie soundtracks and for good reason. It’s a damn fine rockabilly pop song. “Jingle Bell Rock” was his biggest hit (he only had one other song that charted) but this one charted five times.
Recommended version can be found on: the reissued version of the 1967 album Jingle Bell Rock (Collectibles, 1997).
124. Little Saint Nick – The Beach Boys
Why? Because it’s simple, a bit cheesy and a re-written version of “Little Deuce Coupe.” That’s why. It’s got great harmony and its fun. Oh yeah, and it’s got a Chuck Berry groove. ‘Nuff said!
Recommended versions can be found on: The Beach Boys Christmas Album (Capitol, 1964), The Best of The Beach Boys Vol. 2 (Capitol, 1967) and the box set Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of the Beach Boys (Capitol, 1993).
125. Father Christmas – The Kinks
Because it’s classic Kinks. Its sardonic, intelligent and the perfect pop song. And the lyrics…  well, they are amazing.

When I was small I believed in Santa Claus
Though I knew it was my dad
And I would hang up my stocking at Christmas
Open my presents and I’d be glad
But the last time I played Father Christmas
I stood outside a department store
A gang of kids came over and mugged me
And knocked my reindeer to the floor
They said: Father Christmas, give us some money
Don’t mess around with those silly toys.
Well beat you up if you don’t hand it over
We want your bread so don’t make us annoyed
Give all the toys to the little rich boys

Recommended version can be found on: the greatest hits compilation Come Dancing: The Best of The Kinks 1977-1986 (Arista, 1986) reissued by KOCH and Velvel in 2000 and 2005.
126. I Believe In Father Christmas – Greg Lake
Greg Lake wrote it as a protest against the commercialization of Christmas. The original accompanying video was criticized for containing shots of the Vietnam War. It was not light-hearted enough for MTV or VH1 in the ‘80s back when they played music. Either way, it’s a great song.
Recommended versions can be found on: Emerson Lake & Palmer’s Works, Vol. 2 (Atlantic, 1977). The video can be found on You Tube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXCEdrnaFlY
127. One Christmas Catalogue – Captain Sensible
The song is classic ‘80’s synth-pop that features soundbites from old Christmas movies. And the lyrics are clever. Check ‘em out.

Many years ago
More than I can say
‘Cause I wasn’t there
It was yesterday
Statues have their fun
People have their day
And history comes and goes
It’s time for us to play
And there’s a turkey in the wings
He doesn’t dance and he can’t sing
Christmas to Christmas
One Christmas catalog too many
Christmas to Christmas
One Christmas catalog for you
Every plane can fly
Ships take to the sea
Baby you and I
We are you and me
All the nuts and breaks
Through the mists of time
And even at this point
Are really quite sublime
Is it Christmas
Is it Christmas
Is it Christmas
Certain summer trips
Day turns into night
‘Til we squeeze the pips
Let’s just leave the lights
And outside it’s cool
Here it’s fresh and bright
Whyn’t you take my arm
Let’s get out of sight
Is it Christmas
Is it Christmas
Is it Christmas

Recommended versions can be found on: the import best of set Collection (Universal UK, 2003) and New Wave Christmas: Just Can’t Get Enough (Rhino, 1996)
128. Christmas in Hollis – RUN DMC
Because it samples Clarence Carter’s 1968 holiday song “Back Door Santa,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “Jingle Bells” and “Joy to the World.” And because it has a cadence all its own with call and response rapping from each member of the group.
Recommended versions can be found on: A Very Special Christmas (A&M, 1987) and Christmas Rap (Profile, 1987) and the greatest hits compilation Together Forever: Greatest Hits 1983-1991 (Arista, 1988).
129. Run Rudolph Run – Chuck Berry
Because Chuck Berry is the father of Rock n Roll. Because Chuck recorded this at the height of his popularity. Because this is a fantastic song that has been covered by so many others (they’re all good) but none really measure up to the original.
Recommended version can be found on: Chuck Berry Chess Box (Chess/MCA, 1988)
130. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – John Mellencamp
Recorded when Mellencamp was at the height of his popularity. I like this version because Mellencamp takes rock, country, folk and Americana and melds them all together to make this version all his own.
Recommended versions can be found on: A Very Special Christmas (A&M, 1987) and on You Tube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsat4e8jgHA
131. Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt
Because she put the heat into the season. Forget Madonna’s version. This is it. Because it’s a tongue-in-cheek song about wanting extravagant material things for Christmas such as sables, yachts, and decorations from Tiffany’s.
Recommended versions can be found on: the original less up tempo single (if you can find it) Santa Baby / Under The Bridges of Paris (RCA, 1953) and Purr-fect: Greatest Hits (BMG, 1999) and on You Tube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOMmSbxB_Sg
132. Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses
Because it’s amazing! Because it’s witty, ironic, sarcastic and humorous. Because it’s quasi rap. Because it was written when rap was just coming into vogue (that’s why “wrapping” is in the title). The song is talk-sung and is about a hard-working single girl who resolves to sit Christmas out one year.
Recommended versions can be found on: The Best of The Waitresses (Polygram, 1990) and A Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas (UMVD Special Markets, 1995).
133. Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth – David Bowie & Bing Crosby
What seems like an absurd pairing actually works on so many levels. Recorded on September 11, 1977 for Crosby’s then-upcoming television special, Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas, the pair exchanged scripted dialogue about what they each do for their family Christmases, and then broke into “Little Drummer Boy” with a new counterpoint of “Peace On Earth” with original lyrics written for the special.
Recommended versions can be found on: Bowie: The Singles 1969-1993 (Rykodisc, 1993). The song can also be found on You Tube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiXjbI3kRus
134. ‘Zat You, Santa Claus? – Louis Armstrong
Because the original is far better that the Buster Poindexter version.
Recommended Versions can be found on: What a Wonderful Christmas (Hip-O Records, 1997) and The Best of Louis Armstrong – The Christmas Collection: 20th Century Masters (Hip-O Records, 2003).
135. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band
Bruce and the boys have been playing this version of the song for over 35 years. Originally recorded at C.W. Post College in 1975 and broken out occasionally in concert when they tour in the season, this is the perfect Christmas song. It has everything. Clarence provides the “Ho Ho Ho’s” and the bellowing “You better be good for goodness sake” refrain.
Recommended version can be found on: Santa Claus Is Coming to Town / My Hometown [Single] (Columbia, 1998).
136. The Chanukah Song – Adam Sandler
It’s obviously not a Christmas song, but it is a holiday song. It’s funny, irreverent, warm and brilliant. It also features the greatest line about Springsteen – “Bruce Springsteen’s not Jewish, but my mother thinks he is.”
Recommended version can be found on: What The Hell Happened To Me! (Warner Brothers, 1996)
Okay, so here we are again. This is the part where I ask for your help. Everybody has an opinion on music. Everybody has songs that they like. Everyone has their list of “Desert Island Discs” and songs. What songs do you, the readers, like? What are you listening to these days? What songs can’t you live without? I really do want to hear from you. Send me an e-mail telling me what music you like and why. Those of you who have written to me know that I will respond to your e-mails. I’ll feature your song selection in a future column. If you have an idea for an entire column based on a theme or artist, send your ideas along. E-mail me at: [email protected] Type Can’t Live Without in the Topic. Til Next time!

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