Walk Up Music: The Holiday Edition

It's Sunday evening, the Cats are handling UIC and the Hoops team (aka the UK women's b-ball team) won their game earlier today.  Yesterday I celebrated my cousins' 50th wedding anniversary (I guess I should clarify that-my cousin married his bride 50 years ago, not two of my cousins got married.) and found the perfect Christmas gift for a friend.  Thanksgiving was good, though there was one less chair at our table this year and my uncle Jack was definitely missed.  As Thanksgiving dies down, the holiday season barrels in, ready or not.  

I know tomorrow will scarcely begin before it seems as though we had no break at all.  I also don't typically listen to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving, so I'm trying to remember where all my favorite Christmas CDs are.  (Yes, I said CDs.  I feel ancient because even as I type those words spell check doesn't recognize them.  Oh, well.)  Some of the tunes are pretty traditional, others are little more...random.  But I figured I'd get a head start on sharing because it seems like every year the holidays go by a little more quickly.  I'm also sharing more than a week's worth, because I already know my schedule is a little more active than usual.

Walk Up Music:  The Holiday Version

-Dolly Parton: "I'll Be Home With Bells On".  Okay, you need to understand this:  Dolly Parton has been my idol since I was young (and I mean young-like toddler aged).  And this little ditty comes from one of my favorite Christmas albums of all time, Once Upon A Christmas that employs not only Miss Dolly herself, but her greatest duet partner ever, Kenny Rogers.  And it is not officially Christmas at my house until I have put this album on.  (And to further elucidate just how much I love that album, I had multiple tapes of it even as an elementary school student because I wore out the tape from playing it too much.  All I can say is I have the greatest family ever because they tolerated the whole thing.)

-Harry Connick Jr: "W
inter Wonderland"-The instrumental version on the When Harry Met Sally soundtrack, not the one he does with his daughter Kate on a subsequent Christmas album.  (Allow me to wax nostalgically for a moment.  As a college student, my squad and I would spend multiple Friday nights going out to eat someplace and then returning to my friend Jill's house where we would watch that classic cinema masterpiece Hope Floats starring Sandra Bullock and Mr. Harry Connick Jr.  To be more precise, we would swoon over Harry in that movie, and watch it repeatedly because Harry is just too charming for planet Earth and it was completely evident in that film.  We did this every Friday night for more months than I care to admit.  Fast forward 10 years later, and Harry Connick Jr. is performing a Christmas concert in Richmond, Kentucky.  I went and can verify that Harry Connick Jr. is every bit as handsome, charming, funny, and talented in person as he was in that film.  He's so wonderful I don't even begrudge him for marrying a Victoria Secret's model.)  When I saw his Christmas concert this was the first song he played and it was even more beautiful live.           

-Harry Connick Jr:  "We Three Kings".  So I studied piano for 10 years, which may be the reason I really enjoy this version-it's another Harry song that involves no vocals, just instrumentation.  And because Harry's Harry, it's very jazzy and almost big band sounding.  It's a great song because it automatically puts a little lilt in your step.  

-Trans-Siberian Orchestra:  "Christmas in Sarajevo".  My mother loves "Carol of the Bells" which is probably another reason why I like it.  I love the mood it sets as well-it's not jolly by any means but it's very dramatic and captivating.  If they were remaking The Sound of Music using present day music, I have no doubt this song would be in there somewhere.

-Mariah Carey: "All I Want For Christmas is You".  This is probably my favorite secular Christmas song, though it's only recently knocked Kenny & Dolly out of top spot.  And the best part is there are so many variations-you've got the original Mariah version, then you've got the James Corden Carpool Karaoke version, and the Jimmy Fallon classroom instrument version.  And I'm not playing favorites-they're all equally fun to hear and sing. 

-Aretha Franklin: "Joy to the World".  "Joy to the World" is my favorite spiritual Christmas carol.  And 'Retha kills it like only she can.

-Dolly Parton:  "Christmas Time's a Comin' ".  Dolly + Christmas + Jingling Bells = classic.

-Piano Guys: Anything.  But especially "Angels We Have Heard On High"-it's just fun.  And "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" is gorgeous, haunting, and contemplative.  Love it.    And be sure and watch their version of "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer".  You can watch it with your students and they will completely flip out-in a good way.  I'm not going to spoil it for you.  Just go to YouTube and watch. It's worth it.  Promise.

-Harry Connick Jr: "I Pray on Christmas".  A jazzy, upbeat tune that you can appreciate no matter how many times you hear it. 

-Jackson 5: "Santa Claus is Coming to Town".  I seriously don't know why other people record this song.  The Jackson 5 version is the GOAT.  Don't even try, people.  Save your strength for something else.

-Chris Rice: "Welcome to our World".  This song is a marked contrast to all the others on this list, simply because it's a slower tempo song.  But I like the reminder of why we have Christmas in the first place and this delicate tune helps put the focus back on Christ.    

-A Madea Christmas, The Play: "Christmas Medley".  While I like the A Madea Christmas movie, I really, really like the play as well.  In some respects, I actually prefer it to the movie.  And the end number where they are all singing "O Holy Night/Do You Hear What I Hear/Mary, Did You Know" I cry.  Every single time.  It's just that moving. 

-Beastie Boys: "Fight for Your Right".  Y'all-I am not above holding a holiday party as a means of classroom management.  Enough said.

Well, there you have 'em!  I wish you and yours a very blessed and joyfully holiday season (whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, whatever) and new year.

And if you know of any good ones I've left out, please leave a comment!  I would love to know what music you find essential to the holidays!


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