Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Updating Christmas

Most of the people I know enjoy their measured dose of holiday music during this time of year. Recently, I was booked for a string of holiday parties and wanted to be sure I had an abundant amount of music for these occasions.
Now, having been a DJ for many years, you can imagine that I’ve collected many song titles. But the thing about holiday music is that each song has been sung and rearranged many times over. So, while I might have eight versions of “Jingle Bells” (which I do) it doesn’t necessarily mean that I have the version that is most widely known or would prefer to play. So it was with childish excitement that I decided to go through all of my holiday music to be sure 1) that I at least had the 25 most popular titles and 2) I had the versions that are most widely requested and heard on the radio.
So I happened upon a list published by the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) of the 25 most performed holiday songs. As I thought, I already had most of the songs listed. But to my surprise I didn’t have some of the most popular cuts of those titles. This gave me cause to buy more music, one of my favorite things to do! The list is as follows. There is one song not mentioned that you would think should be listed. Can you identify the song?
1. The Christmas Song
2. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
3. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
4. Winter Wonderland
5. White Christmas
6. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
7. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
8. Jingle Bell Rock
9. I’ll Be Home For Christmas
10. Little Drummer Boy
11. Sleigh Ride
12. It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
13. Silver Bells
14. Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree
15. Feliz Navidad
16. Blue Christmas
17. Frosty The Snowman
18. A Holly Jolly Christmas
19. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
20. Here Comes Santa Clause (Right Down Santa Clause Lane)
21. It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas
22. (There’s No Place Like) Home For The Holidays
23. Carol Of The Bells
24. Santa Baby
25. Wonderful Christmastime
What? No “Jingle Bells”? Are you shocked, outraged, and otherwise beside yourself? My guess is that Jingle Bells was written so long ago, that it does not fall under the watchful eye of ASCAP.
A minister named James Pierpont originally wrote “Jingle Bells” in 1857. He wrote it as a Thanksgiving Day song for the children in his Sunday school class. James Pierpont was a relative of the notoriously wealthy JP Morgan. The song became so popular it was repeated at Christmas and quickly became an American holiday classic.
According to ASCAP, the author of the most top holiday songs is Johnny Marks with three – “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer”, “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” and “A Holly Jolly Christmas”.
Some holiday music tips from your DJ: Everyone should own a copy of Vince Guaraldi’s “Charlie Brown Christmas”. If you don’t have this CD, I shall have to shun you forever and take you off of my Christmas card mailing list. If you enjoy instrumental jazz along the lines of Vince Guaraldi’s music, check out the CD by Wynton Marsalis entitled “Christmas Jazz Jam”. Good stuff! Some contemporary versions of old classics that I like include – “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” sung by James Taylor and “White Christmas” sung by Taylor Swift.
Oh, by the way, my computer tells me that I have over 11 hours of holiday music. Still not enough! Have a great, happy and safe holiday season and remember – enjoy the music!