For many years I have believed that there were two types of people: those who loved Christmas music and those who did not. As I began contemplating this theory of mine by conducting a very basic survey among friends and which category they fell into, I discovered the purveyors of Christmas carols were as varied and vast as Christmas music itself.
I began my listening to the sounds of the season shortly before December while traveling at Thanksgiving. On the front seat of my car was an array of my favorite holiday tunes: Bob Dylan’s "Christmas In the Heart" and the offerings of Brian Setzer and Big Bad Voodo Daddy’s "Everything You Want for Christmas," I am, obviously not a traditionalist. While I may have started to rock out to my chosen CDs a bit prematurely I was a bit taken aback but not surprised, to learn my daughter had been playing her favorites since the day after Halloween. This is what set me on the path to question others as when they began to play Christmas music either at home or in the car.
I found that most people began to listen to Christmas carols around Thanksgiving either the day of or the following day, but many people start like my daughter just after Halloween while other prefer to wait until December. The dates in December vary from the first to the 24th. Yes, there are those who insist they do not like Christmas music but will concede to listening to a few bars of "Silent Night" or "Here Comes Santa Claus" on the eve of his annual visit.
My short survey of the when and why of holiday listening brought me to ponder another question, what is more popular: traditional, standard or novelty tunes? I found most listeners preferred the Christmas standards such as "All I want for Christmas," "Up on the house top" and "Jingle Bells," just to name a few. The most popular song I found was "Santa Baby" in all versions and the least favorite was "All I want for Christmas is You" (sorry, Mariah).
Researching different genres and performers of Christmas music I found a large range of contributors from Ashanti to ZZ Top (well, actually Billy Gibbons).
Each and every year a handful of new artists join the Christmas tune train; some are successful while others are not. Even Black Label Society, Twisted Sister and Reverend Horton Heat have tried rocking around the Christmas tree. To further expand the list there are also comedy albums and Hanukkah offerings We are all pretty much familiar with Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah songs.
There are so many unusual and good songs out there and I am one who will often go in search of something a bit off the peppermint path. Some of my finds over the years have proven to be pure glittery gold. Among my collection are Jimmy Buffett, Dr. John (with Redbone), Dylan, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Brian Setzer, who incidentally puts on a great Christmas show complete with Santa and the Grinch. His Rockabilly Christmas and rocking Rudolph will get you singing along and dancing in the aisles.
So before you go dismissing Christmas Carols as pure holiday humbug or more sugary than grandma’s frosted cookies, think back to what made you sing this season or in a Christmas past. Whether you prefer Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Gene Autry or Snoop Dog, there is something out there for everyone. If not, try a few versions of "Auld Lang Syne." I know an excellent one by Leon Redbone. Happy Holidays!