Saturday, December 9, 2023

Crate Digger: Alternative Christmas Songs

Every Christmas seems to be accompanied by the same sound track. I am not one to begrudge the extra income going into the pension funds of Noddy Holder, Roy Wood, Cliff Richard and co. but here is an alternative list, compiled from a search through my own record collection.


  1. Tom Waits: Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis

Tom Waits gruffly slurs out a round robin letter – with a sting in its tail.



  1. Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band: There ain’t no Santa Claus on the Evening Stage

The good Cap’n distends the blues to produce this lamentation. “Oh, ho,ho,ho,oh! Oh, no,no,no,no,oh!”



  1. The Who: Christmas

One of the great songs from “Tommy”; why isn’t this on the Christmas JukeBox?



  1. Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers: Abominable Snowman in the Market

The Modern Lovers meet an unhappy snowman in the supermarket; “down by the peas and carrots”.



  1. Sun Ra and the Qualities: It’s Christmas Time

In the 60’s Sun Ra would regularly release singles on his own record label to bring in a bit of extra cash. This one is by a Doo -Wop band, made up of members of his Arkestra.



  1. Cordelia’s Dad: The Frozen Girl

A traditional folk song, beautifully arranged: A sleigh ride ends in tragedy caused by vanity.


  1. Fats Waller: Swingin’ Them Jingle Bells

Fats Waller’s Jazzed up version of Jingle Bells.



  1. Sonny Rollins: In the Chapel in the Moonlight

Not sure whether the chapel is in Christmas moonlight, but it is Sonny Rollins on Tenor Sax, and that’s good enough for me.



  1. Walter Carlos: Sonic Seasonings, Winter

Walter Carlos was an early pioneer of electronic music. This is his 20 minute, 31 seconds meditation on Winter.


  1. Coleman Hawkins and Red Allen: Maryland, My Maryland

“Maryland, My Maryland” is based on the German carol “O Tannenbaum” (“O Christmas Tree). It also provides the melody for the Labour Party’s anthem “The Red Flag”. Coleman Hawkins and Red Allen swing through this version with joyful aplomb.



By Tony Webster

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