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Which is the Best Christmas Carol?
Filed under: Holidays
Ah, Christmas carols. These days they start the sun-up after Halloween and carry is through most if not all of December. Some radio stations play nothing but Christmas carols throughout the holiday season. We get a kick out them, find them nostalgic, can't live without them, and are driven crazy by them by the end of December when Christmas actually rolls around. I'm already at the point where I think "the most wonderful time of the year" is when I don't have to hear "The Most Wonderful Time of The Year" by Johnny Mathis ONE MORE TIME. Still, I get a little Christmas spirit just thinking about the songs I heard and sang when I was a kid, the ones that we consider classics and that for some reason never get tiresome.
This inevitably brings up the debate as to what the best Christmas song actually is. Everyone has their favorite, whether it be traditional, religious or whimsical/fun. I seriously doubt anyone will be debating the merits of "O Tannenbaum," but, you know, different strokes for different folks. Many of us love "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer." While not religious nor related to the birth of Jesus, it tells a great, sweet story and sends a message to kids that it's OK to be yourself, at least at Christmas time. In fact, most of the favorite carols I hear of aren't religious at all, although people tend to love "Away in a Manger. " (Seriously, what does "Frosty the Snowman" have to do with the baby Jesus?) When I was a kid my mom and I used to sing "Here Comes Santa Claus" all the time so that one is pretty high up on my list. Ask my dad though, and he'll tell you flat out there's no beating Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song." I guess roasting chestnuts makes my dad nostalgic!
The best Christmas songs seem to be those classic numbers, not the stuff that gets churned out now. Sure, there's a place for Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You" and the Manheim Steamroller version of anything, but they have yet to match the fabulousness that is "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." It's generally tolerable to hear a modern singer do a rendition of an old classic--Harry Connick, Jr's version of Winter Wonderland is pretty grand--but if there's one thing debaters tend to agree upon, it's that the classic songs are done best when sung by their classic singers. You just can't beat Gene Autry's "Rudolph" or Burl Ives' Holly Jolly Christmas. There is, of course, one exception to this rule, and that is that if it's sung by Elvis, then it's OK. His version of "Here Comes Santa Claus" is pretty spectacular.
I have a new favorite, now that I am a mom--"Silent Night." But, in my heart, I'll always love "Rudolph." Also, this year, "Baby, It's Cold Outside" seems to be in heavy rotation. This is thanks to the movie "Elf." I'm partial to that because I love the song's author, Johnny Mercer (for whom my son is named).
Which do you think is the best Christmas song, and why???