1) My friend Carla had only recently heard a song from that first album, and didn’t know about the compilations
2) It is St. Nicholas Day, and I needed an excuse to put some more holiday music herein
3) It’s Wednesday, at least in some hemisphere
A Very Special Christmas is “the title of an ongoing series of Christmas music compilation albums that benefit Special Olympics,” and I own the first seven albums. It was “the brainchild of music producer Jimmy Iovine, who wanted to produce a Christmas album as a memorial to his father. The idea of the record benefiting Special Olympics was suggested by Iovine’s wife Vicki, as she was a volunteer for the organization.
“Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss, the founders of A&M Records, along with Bobby Shriver, helped the Iovines realize the project. Since the release of the first album in 1987, the series has raised over $100 million for Special Olympics, more than any other benefit series. The album cover art is designed by artist Keith Haring.”
I’ve linked to each of the titles AND artists below (except Natalie Merchant, for whom I found only one acceptable version).
A Very Special Christmas (1987) – the original, and still my favorite. A few songs swiped the arrangements of Phil Spector’s Christmas album of a quarter of a century earlier.
1. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town – The Pointer Sisters
2. Winter Wonderland – Eurythmics
3. Do You Hear What I Hear? – Whitney Houston
4. Merry Christmas Baby – Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band – Live track
7. Gabriel’s Message – Sting
8. Christmas in Hollis– Run-D.M.C.
10. Santa Baby – Madonna; Done previously by Eartha Kitt
14. The Coventry Carol – Alison Moyet
A Very Special Christmas 2 (1992)
A Very Special Christmas 3 (1997) – ah, these are coming out every five years
A Very Special Christmas Live (1999) – or maybe not. “The album was recorded live in Washington, D.C. in December 1998 at a benefit party held by then-President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the founding of Special Olympics.”
A Very Special Christmas 5 (2001) – “Several of the album’s tracks were recorded live in Washington, D.C. in December 2000 at a benefit concert hosted by then-President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton.”
A Very Special Acoustic Christmas (2003) – “As opposed to earlier editions that contained a wide variety of musical styles, this version… featured primarily Country and Bluegrass artists.” I found this only a season or two ago.
A Very Special Christmas 7 (2009) – and there are others, related to the theme, and benefiting the Special Olympics, which I don’t have (yet) such as Jazz to the World (1995) and World Christmas (1996). Maybe next year, I’ll list tracks from the later albums.