November 30, 2016

Fixing My Christmas Music Problem

Every year for several years now, I have gotten out our stack of Christmas CD's (yes, I'm old-school and still listen to CD's) with a sigh. While there are a few gems among them, most of them are not my favorite for one reason or another. Each year I think I'm going to listen to them all and take out the ones I don't like. Each year I don't take the time. So then I have this hit-or-miss Christmas music experience. I know the ones I really like, but most are just kind of mediocre. I put one in and cross my fingers.

Also, it seems my collection is rather heavy on the instrumental and slow ballad side. Sometimes that's what I'm in the mood for, but sometimes I want some catchy tunes and WORDS!

Well, no more! This is the year folks. In fact, today is the day. Snow is falling outside, I'm home alone (strangely enough), and I have time. Let's do this!

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Okay, you ready for this? No, I didn't listen to them all straight through, by the way.
Here are my keepers, newly categorized!

Music to Calm the Wild Beasts

George Winston's December.
Piano music to soothe your soul. I could listen to this on repeat all day. Actually, on one of our many 12-hour drives to see family, we did just that. It's good music for pondering, adding a little peace to your crazy holiday season, or just watching the miles fly by out your window.
Favorite tracks: Carol of the Bells or Joy.

A Carol to My King, by John Canaan
Perfect for a mellow afternoon or as lullabies under the glow of twinkly tree lights.  Understated accompaniment complements Canaan's smooth vocals to a T.
Favorite track: Candle Light

Music to Get You Through the Christmas Card Stack

Holiday Treasures Series: Celtic Christmas (Various Artists)
Upbeat instrumentals that will make you want to dance a jig, with a few slower selections towards the end to change things up a bit. Plenty of flute. No words, so you won't find yourself writing a song lyric to Great-Aunt Lucy accidentally, but fast-paced and toe-tapping without being too distracting.  Hey--if you take a whirl around the room in the name of a "stretch break," that's your business.
Favorite track: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Music to Have on in the Background

Lorie Line: Home for the Holidays
Another instrumental CD (I told you I had a lot of them!), this one is nice middle ground. It's not so sleepy/deep-thinking as the first 2, or quite as chipper as the Celtic one. Just--you know--good background music that will let you think about other things, but still have a little Christmas flavor in your subconscious.

Noel, by Josh Groban
Any Josh Groban fans out there? Easy listening, with a range of accompaniments, including the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the London Symphony Orchestra. A handful of the songs are duets. This isn't one I just sit and listen to (or sing along with), but it makes for some fine holiday cheer as you go about your business.

Music That Your Kids Will Like More Than You

Disney's Christmas Collection II
This is an interesting mix. Some of the songs are adult mixed chorus, some have cameos by Disney characters, and a few are solos by children. It's tolerable. The best part is that it's only 25 minutes long.
Favorite Track: The Twelve Days of Christmas with Mickey, Goofy, and the rest of the gang is the one they seem to enjoy the most.

Kidz Bop Christmas
Okay, this isn't terrible. If the kids put it on I don't turn it right back off. (How's that for a ringing endorsement? Ha!)
Favorite track: I think they like Frosty the Snowman.

Music for Your Inner Pavarotti

Handel's Messiah
The CD linked isn't exactly the same version I have, but it has the same main artists: Huddersfield Choral Society, Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Malcolm Sargent. It will be pretty close.
So put this on and belt it out!
Favorite Track: For Unto Us a Child is Born

Music to Bring Back Days of Yore

Christmas with Bing and Frank
It sounds like a recording of a show--there's some chit-chat back and forth between songs and such. Only 12 songs long, but some good 'uns.
(The link is the one I've got, as near as I can tell.)

Manheim Steamroller: A Fresh Aire Christmas (by Chip Davis)
This was a favorite in our house when I was growing up. I still really like it! A mix of synth, traditional instruments, and vocals.
Favorite track: Veni Veni (O Come O Come Emmanuel)

Fresh Voices

All is Bright: A Mercy River Christmas
Gorgeous harmonies, vocal trio. I bought this one last year in an attempt to expand my Christmas music. So pretty.
Favorite tracks: Sleigh Ride and Still, Still, Still

[UPDATE: FOUND IT!! Yay! It had slipped down sideways between the wall and the cd player stand. Not even scratched. Happiness.]

Single Tracks
I have a few CD's that were mixed by friends, then given as a gift. They're a bit hit-or-miss, but here are a few I liked:

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings, by Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan
I love this version of these 2 songs! I want to just keep singing it.

Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song) by Amy Grant
There are some neat YouTube videos with this as the background, and clips from different movies.
Here's one with clips from The Nativity Story:

Christmas Canon by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Ethereal and so beautiful.

Plus, Cloverton's A Hallelujah Christmas. I've only been able to find this one YouTube, and the links often go down. Here's one working currently:

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Please, help me out! What is your favorite Christmas album?


  1. This was fun, love most of your keepers (Manheim Steamroller! The best!). We don't actually own a cd player anymore, so I've gotten rid of most of my cds (except for a few I keep in the car). I do most of my Christmas music listening through Pandora or other streaming services, which has its pros and cons. However, if you're looking to expand your cd collection, I really like The Piano Guys Christmas album (although, that won't get you out of your instrumental rut), and I don't own the cd or complete album, but I really enjoy all the Pentatonix Christmas singles I've heard.

    1. Oh yes, Piano Guys is one I've been eyeing lately. I've only heard one of the Pentatonix songs--I'll have to look them up.
      Maybe someday I'll cross into the realm of digital music! :) It would be cheaper, I think. The mp3 version of these were all about half the price of the CD's.