Music and song add a special atmosphere to Christmas. Let it please be, though, the right music. Nothing dampens my Christmas spirit like the grating pleas of Noddy Holder, Shakin Stevens or The Pogues on “shop repeat” – by now in life I truly hate ‘Fairytale of New York’ – there, I’ve said it.
For me Christmas music has to be either utterly joyful, making me feel like I’m seven years old again. Or it has to evoke all the emotions of the season, romance, sentimentality and of course, a hint of sadness. For as we get older our Christmases are inevitably tinged with loss. So, over the years I’ve treasured some tunes that hold a special place on my Christmas playlist. Some are from family Christmases at home as a child and a teenager, some are from my Christmas party years (currently ‘on hold’!) and the most recent are the songs that get Little P boogieing around the Christmas tree!
Hopefully there are some you haven’t heard before and that you might like to add to your own Christmas playlist.
1. Mary’s Boy Child – Boney M
As a child of the Eighties this one takes me right back to the first Christmases I can remember. Ever the starstruck toddler, I even got a set of Boney M dolls from Santa (worth a fortune now on eBay – if only I still had them!).
2. The Little Drummer Boy – David Bowie & Bing Crosby.
This yuletide duet never fails to make me cry, but with sweet nostalgia. It brings back all the childhood memories of sitting with my brothers impatiently on the stairs waiting for Mum & Dad to let us see what Santa had left under the tree! Bowie and Bing seem to recognise in each other a reflection of what age will bring, and the hope that youth still holds, and that’s what makes this so poignant.
3. Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt
This was a real end of the night song when I started going to Christmas discos as a teenager. It was the first ‘sexy’ Santa song I had ever heard. After I got over the shock I kinda liked it!
4. Mele Kalikimaka – Bing Crosby
I love this song because it conjures up a completely different type of Christmas than the usual snow & Santa. As I got older I often dreamed about going away and having Christmas on the beach just like in this song.
5. Christmas of Love – Little Isidore & the Inquisitors
When I worked in TV I was always looking for Christmas music to use in programmes that was unusual but still Christmassy. This one from the soundtrack of ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ was perfect. It was also the one that got me on the dancefloor many times in my party shoes.
6. Silent Night – Sinead O’Connor
As an atheist, Christmas is obviously not a religious festival for me but, until my grandparents passed away I still went to midnight mass with them at Christmas. I don’t think anyone could fail to be moved by a hymn like ‘Silent Night’ no matter what one’s beliefs. Sinead O’Connor’s version is ethereal.
7. Hey Eugene – Pink Martini
This isn’t a Christmas song but I first heard it at Christmas time. It’s not even very romantic but it was my partner who played it for me, knowing I’d love it! So now it always reminds me of our first Christmas together. It’s a late night, end of the party kind of song.
8. I’m a little Christmas Cracker – Diana Decker
We played this for Little P when we were putting up the decorations for her first Christmas. We made up silly actions & she thought it was the funniest song ever. It’s a cute one for very young children.
9. Mama Cita Donde Esta Santa Claus – Augie Rios
This is currently Little P’s favourite Christmas song. It’s a Spanish song but this is an English version. When I hear it I can feel all my childhood anticipation of Christmas Eve return as I tried desperately to fall asleep, before Santa arrived!
10. Sleigh Ride – Leroy Anderson
Finally a piece of jolly instrumental music that, for me, captures the essence of Christmases past, present and future. Sounding always as silky smooth and fresh as it must have sounded in those early “Mad Men” days of the Sixties, is what makes this track my absolute favourite.
A classic Christmas tune that would’ve given Mr Scrooge himself a warm festive glow inside!