This meme originates at The Shelf, and made its way to me via Retro Hound (who hates the word "meme" at least as much as I do). I decided to participate in this one for two reasons (1) it's not just Christmas songs, but rather performances, which I thought was an interesting twist, and (2) because Retro Hound operates one of my favorite retro sites in the blogosphere (another word I hate), so I'm all over it.
10. "Silent Night" by Claudine Longet and Andy Williams
You may recall from an earlier post on Claudine Longet that Andy Williams discovered her stranded on the side of the road in Vegas. He fell in love with this unknown dancer and it wasn't long before her career took off in television, movies and the music business. They were well connected with the Kennedy's (Bobby being a close family friend) and things couldn't be happier.
By 1970, however, the couple split up and Claudine moved in with the famous Olympic skier, "Spider" Sabich. The relationship became tumultuous and in 1975 Claudine shot her husbund in the stomach, killing him. She only spent 30 days in jail.....
So, why do I love this performance? It gives me a very strange feeling, knowing what was to come just a few years later. One day a sweet wholesome moment before the violence.
9. "Merry Christmas, Darling" by The Carpenters
Another bittersweet Christmas song. The tune was originally recorded when Karen was only 20 years old, her future certainly looked bright in 1970, but there was always a hint of sadness in everything she sang. This performance was taped 8 years after the original recording - she would die from complications of anorexia in 1983. (Sorry if I'm bringing the room down - I'll try to make the next one peppy.)
8. "Happy Life Day" by Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher)
Life Day is the Star Wars Universe's answer to Christmas. It was featured in the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special of 1978.
Note: One reason you rarely see embedded YouTube videos on Retrospace is that they are so unstable. They're removed all the time due to some greedy bastard getting mad about not getting his royalties. Very likely this video will soon be deleted if George Lucas'
7. "White Christmas" by The New Dada
The New Dada were an Italian band which opened for The Beatles during their tours of Italy. Their version of White Christmas presented here is short but sweet. They have that shit kicking mod 'tude in full effect and somehow take a Bing Crosby classic and warp it into something Mick Jagger-esque. The icing on the cake is that it ends with a few words by Sophia Loren.
6. The Christmas Scene in Tommy by Oliver Reed and Ann-Margret
It's not so much the song that I like, it's the bizarre fusion of Christmas with The Who, of having Ann-Margret and Oliver Reed singing Who songs at a Christmas party. Unfortunately, the song absolutely sucks. I had to listen to Run DMC's "Christmas in Hollis" just to get it out of my head.
5. "I Believe in Father Christmas" by Greg Lake
A founding member of King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer preaching against the commercialization of the holiday - incredible, to say the least. But it's not just the song that's great, the video performance in Jordan with images of Vietnam is pretty hard hitting. Lake was a talented and intelligent musician if there ever was one - he would throw up at my choice for number one on this list.
4. "O Come All Ye Faithfull" by Carol Brady (Florence Henderson)
I love good ol' fashioned Christmas songs and I love Mrs.
3. "Merry Xmas Everybody" by Slade
Utterly brilliant song by an utterly brilliant band. A glam rock Christmas classic by my main man, Noddy on Top of the Pops. For another great glam Xmas, I recommend Wizzard's "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday" or Mud's "Lonely this Christmas".
2. "Children of Peace" by Unit Gloria
From Utrecht, one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, comes this wild piece of Christmas prog rock. The clothes, the hair, the accent, the lyrics, the Teutonic "progishness".... what's not to love? In case you doubt this is actually a Christmas song, the B-Side to the single was "Silent Night" and "Ave Maria".
1. I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing - The Hillside Singers
This Christmas version of the unbelievably successful 1971 song brings back so many memories, my mind simply bursts with warm fuzzy thoughts of Christmases past. Maybe it's sad that a commercial jingle would top my list, but my generation was raised on the commercialization of Christmas and so it seems only fitting.
Of course, this song transcends "jingle". This was a hippie anthem - just listen to the lyrics: "I'd like to buy the world a home and furnish it with love. Grow apple trees and honey bees, and snow white turtle doves." The song hit a chord with the young generation. Sure, it was by one of the world's largest corporations, but who cares? It's not just carbonated high fructose corn syrup, it's a commonality that binds us all in peaceful harmony. Merry Christmas!