A Very Special Christmas

Special Olympics

Back when I was buying vinyl, and later with CDs, I was a sucker for music associated with a good cause: No Nukes, a Cambodian refugee cause, USA for Africa, and so many more. And not just the We Are The World single but the whole album.

So, I have several CDs in the A Very Special Christmas series, in fact, the first seven (The live album is the fourth, and the acoustic album is the sixth.). The funds go to the Special Olympics, as noted here. If you have Spotify, which I do, you can hear the whole set of albums. If not, you get the 30-second tease. For those of you in the latter category, my list of some of the songs I like.

The original and still the best (1987)

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – the Pointer Sisters. They seem to be having such fun.

Winter Wonderland – Eurythmics. Annie Lennox’s great voice shines through.

Do You Hear What I Hear? – Whitney Houston

Merry Christmas, Baby -Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Prime Boss

Gabriel’s Message -Sting. This is in our church hymnal.

Christmas in Hollis – Run-D.M.C. I’ll admit that it took me a moment to embrace it, but now I like it a lot. The last time I took the Long Island Railroad, I noticed the Hollis, Queens stop.

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – U2 -It’s not Darlene Love, as heard on A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector, but what is?

Santa Baby -Madonna. I’ve heard lots of complaints that it’s not as good as Eartha Kitt, but I heard this first, so I have an odd affection for it.

The Coventry Carol – Alison Moyet. My favorite song in the entire series.

Volume 2 (1992)

Christmas All Over Again – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. This song always makes my Christmas playlist on the blog.

Merry Christmas, Baby – Charles Brown, Bonnie Raitt. Bonnie had both Charles Brown and Ruth Brown on her subsequent tour.

What Child Is This – Vanessa Williams. That Carol of the Bells intro oddly works here.

Volume 3 (1997)

Children Go Where I Send Theee – Natalie Merchant. I loved this song growing up, and this take is fun.

We Three Kings – Patti Smith. This, by comparison, is particularly dark, which I also enjoy.

The Live album (1999)? There are too many covers of the previous iterations. Volume 5 (2001)? Some OK pieces.

Acoustic (2003)

This is primarily a country/bluegrass album.

Even Santa Claus Gets The Blues -Marty Stuart. It has a great guitar intro.

Christmas Is Near – Ralph Stanley. I love the harmony.

The subsequent album, the 7th volume (2009), is fine, though it covers many of the same songs that I heard before, and the earlier ones are usually better.

After that, 25 Years Bringing Joy to the World and 25 Years of Bringing Peace on Earth (both 2012) I haven’t heard yet. The latter features “Today’s Top Christian Artists.”

Finally, the ICON album (2013) is an odd mix of songs previously on albums from the series (Sting, Aretha, Bon Jovi, Underwood, Petty, Crow), older songs (Lennon, Presley, Wham!), and new songs by Rod Stewart and Josh Groban. You can still purchase these if you’re so inclined.

More Christmas on the burned CD

The Bells of Christmas

Here’s the second part of the Christmas song roster that I put on a burned CD in 2006. There are other holiday compilations I’ve made. But I pulled a bunch of CDs off the Christmas section of the shelf. I had intended to pick selections from various discs, but when I found this puppy, voila!

In retrospect, I might have put the two Santa songs and the Allan Sherman cut together.

Careless Santa – Mono Puff. From a Hello Records compilation c. 1997.

The Bells of Christmas – Julie Andrews. Absolutely one of my favorite Christmas songs ever. And I have the hardest time finding it on YouTube. There’s a version of it, featuring the Young Americans, performed much faster and higher in Julie’s range I just do not like. This version has an extra minute of strings starting at 1:07. The version I love is at 17:33 of the album. Accept no substitutes.

Barefoot Santa Claus · Sonny James. This appears on some compilation someone made for me. But I may have heard it growing up – it came out in 1966 – when I used to listen to WWVA in Wheeling, WV late at night.

Star Carol · Simon and Garfunkel. From their boxed set, Old Friends. It was recorded in 1967 but was not released until 1997.

Very special

What Child Is This? · Vanessa Williams. From A Very Special Christmas 2, which came out in 1992 to support the Special Olympics.

12 Days of Christmas · Allan Sherman. Heard this growing up.

The Coventry Carol · Alison Moyet. My favorite cut from A Very Special Christmas album from 1987.

The Christmas Waltz -Frank Sinatra. I have this on the Capitol Records Frank singles box set. BTW, tomorrow would have been Sinatra’s 106th birthday.

Gabriel’s Message – Sting. Another song from the original A Very Special Christmas.

Jingle Bells -Fab Four. Not the Beatles, but a tribute band.

Silent Night · Sarah McLachlan. Her Wintersong album came out in 2006, but I don’t own it, so it must have been on another compilation.

Winter Snow · Booker T. and The MG’s. Arguably my favorite song from Stax-Volt: The Complete Singles 1959-1968.

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