Like the rest of the world, I took a bit of a break last Christmas. For the first time in twenty years, I didn’t make one single Christmas mix. It wasn’t just the pandemic, but it was largely the pandemic. I also took a difficult online course and spent the early days of December studying for a difficult exam.
This year I’m getting my feet wet. No big parties but maybe Christmas with my mom and my brothers and my nieces and nephews, windows ajar, vaccinated and safely spaced out. *Maybe* some hugs, even. We’ll all have to see what feels right.
I was determined to at least make one seasonal mix this year. So I carved out three hours during a study day, the last Bandcamp Friday before Christmas as it was, and I downloaded all the holiday songs I could find that also sounded good to my ears at first listen. A few of them were songs I went looking for but most of them were discovered by accident. After my awful exam was finally over I listened to so many wonderful songs and eventually whittled them down to a playlist of twenty.
I know most Christmas music mix-makers just make one a year, and I totally get why. This may be my Christmas music future.
I hope you’ll all enjoy these songs, and if you do, please support the artists! These tracks can all be purchased through Bandcamp. Please share, and PLEASE let’s make “Yippee-Ki-Yay Father Christmas” a holiday classic already.
- Lake Effect – Amos Pitsch
- Kids Come Back Again at Christmas – Sloan
- Marching Through Your Head (Christmas Edition) – Zeus
- Merry, Merry Christmas – Fascinations Grand Chorus
- Yippee-Ki-Yay Father Christmas – Jonnie Common
- Santa Lives In My Building – Spearmint
- Hey Santa – The Birthday Girl vs Alexander’s Festival Hall
- Every Year – Jeff Mellin
- Know by Now – Jeff Hulett
- Ebb & Flow (Yuletide!) – The Little Unsaid
- Leaving Me This Christmas – Julie Corrigan feat. Roxanne Potvin & Lynn Miles
- Icicles – The Bird Calls
- Miss Mistletoe – Buck Meek
- He’s The One – Ali Sperry and Kristin Weber
- Auld Lang Syne (Don’t Waste My Time) – Wood Hitch
- See That Day – Hexicon
- Xmas in California – Reuben and the Dark
- A Midwest Christmas – Andrea von Kampen
- Cancel Christmas – Jillette Johnson
- Merry Christmas (What a Hell of a Year) – Thom Stone
It’s December 1st, and my first themed playlist of 2019 is long overdue. I hope the wait is worth it!
Of course Christmas is not really about the getting, but it’s still awfully exciting to get that one thing you’ve been hoping for all year. You’re probably not getting an elephant or a hoverboard, but I hope you’re not getting socks, either!
- 12 Days of Christmas – Bob & Doug Mackenzie
- No Presents for Christmas – King Diamond
- I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas – Gayla Peevey
- (I Want a) Rock and Roll Guitar – Johnny Preston
- I Want Elvis for Christmas – The Holly Twins
- Baby Wants a Basketball for Christmas – Living Sisters
- A Chainsaw for Christmas – Zombina and the Skeletones
- I Want an Alien for Christmas – Fountains of Wayne
- All I Want for Christmas is a Hoverboard – Machu Picchu
- Give Me a Buffalo, for Christmas – Jack Macdonald and the Hotel Faces
- All I Wanted was a Skateboard – Super Deluxe
- Socks – JD McPherson
- Presents for Christmas – Solomon Burke
- All I Want for Christmas is a Dukla Prague Away Kit – Half Man Half Biscuit
- Don’t Give Me No Goose for Christmas, Grandma – McKenna Mendelson Mainline
- All I Want for Christmas is a Cowboy – Lindi Ortega
- Santa Never Brings me a Banjo – David Myles
- I’d Like to Have an Elephant for Christmas – Hank Thompson and the Brazos Valley Boys
- I Don’t Want Nuthin’ for Christmas – Tom McDermott
I live in a part of the world where a white Christmas is very likely, and a cold Christmas is certain. But of course there are lots and lots of places without snow or ice in December. This mix of for those people who live in or get to travel to a warmer climate at this time of year. And for the rest of us to fantasize about.
- Winter in the Sun – Brandon Schott
- Christmas Day in the Sun – Hot Hot Heat
- Coconut – The Pack A.D.
- Christmas in California – Roadside Bombs
- Sleigh Ride in Bora Bora – Melissa Axel, Modern Tuba & Friends
- Christmas Paradise – Carole King
- Christmas Island – Jimmy Buffett
- Acapulco – Andy Cull
- Mele Kalikimaka – Asylum Street Spankers
- It’s Christmas in Louisiana – Johnnie Allan
- Zydeco Christmas – C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band
- Soca Santa -Machel Montano
- Season’s Greetings from the Tropics – Kashief Lindo
- Africa Christmas (Reggae Christmas) – Yellowman
- White Sand Beach Christmas – Christafari
- Christmas in Waikiki – Morgan
- Jungle Bells – Les Paul & Mary Ford
- Here Comes Santa in a Red Canoe – The Surfers
- In the Hot Sun of a Christmas Day – Caetano Veloso
- Santa’s Gonna Come on a Surfboard – Adam Brand
- Fireside Ki Ho’alu – George Kuo
- Christmas in Paradise – Mary Gauthier
It’s December! We all have work parties to go to, for better or worse. Whatever your expectations are, let’s make sure crappy music isn’t among them. Here’s a playlist of secular holiday tunes that will satisfy with some familiar favourites and some songs that just sound like they’re familiar. It’s not too weird, but it’s not too boring either. Put this on and you can steer clear of awkward conversations with otherwise excellent colleagues who have a fondness for “Baby It’s Cold Outside” or “Do They Know it’s Christmas.”
- Christmas Party – Dr. Dog
- Jingle Bells – Glenn Miller
- Shake Hands With Santa Claus – Louis Prima
- Cool Yule – Louis Armstrong
- I Wouldn’t Trade Christmas – Frank Sinatra
- It’s Christmas – Jimmy Wakely
- Put The Loot in the Boot – Mae West
- The Man With All the Toys – The Beach Boys
- Oh It’s Christmas – The Rosebuds
- It’s Christmas – David Myles
- A Marshmallow World – Darlene Love
- I Wish You a Merry Christmas – Big Dee Irwin
- Big Bulbs – Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings
- Christmas Everyday – The Miracles
- Dig That Crazy Santa Claus – Oscar McLollie
- We Wanna See Santa Do the Mambo – Big John Greer
- Christmas of Love – Little Isadore & the Inquisitors
- What Christmas Means to Me – Stevie Wonder
- Frosty the Snowman – Lars Edegran & His Santa Claus Revelers
- I’d Like to Hitch a Ride With Santa Claus – Banu Gibson
- Here Comes Santa Claus – Ramsey Lewis Trio
- That Old Christmas Moon – Leon Redbone
- Blue Christmas – Matt Andersen
- The Chipmunk Song – The Good Lovelies
- Party Hard – Zach Gill
- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Judy Garland
So this mix has been a really long time coming. I made it specifically for the Tranzac Club’s annual Holiday Gift Fair, something I intended to do in time for last year’s event. Oops.
The Tranzac is a space in Toronto that I mostly know because it hosts a lot of live events – music, plays, readings, you name it; it’s a multi-purpose space with three performance areas. But historically, and also, it is the home of the Toronto Australia New Zealand Club, so I decided I’d like to make a mix that celebrates those roots. And it was harder than I’d anticipated. I wanted to stay away from covers of standards by bands who happened to be from Australia or New Zealand and instead focus on songs specifically about Christmas in those places. I did a lot of research for this one, and I am sure I’m missing lots of gems that people from those places look forward to every year. Please, tell me about them in the comments!
Hope you’ll all enjoy these songs from the southern hemisphere. And if you’re in Toronto, do check out their Holiday Gift Fair next month!
- Six White Boomers – Rolf Harris
- Christmas in New Zealand – The Long Ryders
- C’Mon It’s an Aussie Christmas – Bucko & Champs
- The Three Drovers – Sydney Symphony Orchestra and NSW State Conservatorium
- Christmas on the Station – Slim Dusty
- Southern Cross for Christmas – Boogie 2 Shoes
- White Wine in the Sun – Tim Minchin
- Christmas in Australia – Joe Dolce
- How to Make Gravy – Paul Kelly
- Aussie Jingle Bells – The Sunny Cowgirls
- Christmas Photo – John Williamson
- Santa Never Made it Into Darwin – Bucko & Champs
- Santa’s Gonna Come in a Mail Coach – Slim Dusty
- New Zealand Christmas Tree – The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra
- Merry Christmas – Sydney Symphony Orchestra and NSW State Conservatorium
I know it’s not really almost Christmas yet, but it’s (Canadian) Thanksgiving this weekend and only a few more weeks until the start of the holiday season proper (after Halloween). I have been waiting for this for an awfully long time. In fact, throughout the year I’ve discovered all kinds of gems I’ve been excited to share.
So my first 2018 mix is a compilation of 45s I picked up at Kops (the Danforth location). This is a great record store, and truly holds the best collection of Christmas music I’ve seen. If you’re in Toronto and care about Christmas music even an eighth as much as I do, you’ve got to pay them a visit.
I hope you’ll enjoy these seasonal treasures as much as I do!
If you have a favourite record store for Christmas finds, please tell me about it in the comments!
And Happy Thanksgiving!
- Christmas Alphabet – The McGuire Sisters
- The Happy Reindeer – Dancer, Prancer and Nervous, The Singing Reindeer
- Phroomf – Little Apples
- Christmas Kiddie Polka – The Kent Harlan Orchestra and Chorus
- There’s A Hole in My Christmas Stocking – The Keith Richards Orchestra
- Disco Santa – Winston Hewitt
- Santa Mouse – Bob Morrison
- Holiday Hootenanny – Paul & Paula
- Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’ – Mack Rice
- Light You Up Like a Christmas Tree – Jimmy Lewis
- Hardrock, Coco, and Joe – The Les Tucker Singers
- Santa Jaws, Part 1 – Homemade Theatre
- The Cowboys Christmas Ball – Michael Martin Murphey
- Mommy Look, Santa is Crying – Stonewall Jackson
- Colorado Christmas – The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
It’s been a year, huh? Lots of terrible and lots of wonderful. I am going to focus on the latter, and remember to be grateful for all of the positive people that I’m certain will be here well into 2018 and beyond, holding me up, loving me, and making this world a truly delightful place. I am lucky to have such a wonderful family, so many deep friendships, and the previously unimaginable love of the perfect partner for me.
I’m going to dedicate this mix to two people who didn’t even exist when we rang in 2017 – my niece Penny and my goddaughter Emelyn. (As an atheist, that’s a title I sure never thought I’d get!) May they always feels so loved and able to look at each new year as being filled with opportunity, adventure, new connections, and surprises.
Hope you all have a wonderful 2018 and feel as lucky and loved as I do right now.
That’s it for the 2017 season. See you in a few months!
Tracklist (and where you can get these songs for yourselves):
- The Head and the Heart – What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?
- Allo’ Darlin’ – Will You Please Spend New Year’s Eve With Me?
- Mac McCaughan – Happy New Year (Prince Can’t Die Again)
- The Dismemberment Plan – The Ice of Boston
- The Big Moon – Happy New Year
- Casiotone for the Painfully Alone – New Year’s Kiss
- Hey Rosetta – New Year Song
- Bert Jansch – The Bright New Year
- Chris Burkhardt – Dancing on New Year’s Day
- The Zombies – This Will Be Our Year
- Jimmy Jules & The Nuclear Soul System – The New Year
- Bing Crosby – On The Very First Day of the Year
- Edna Savage – Maybe This Year
- Vera Lynn – The Happiest New Year of All
- Roy Milton Solid Serenaders – New Year’s Resolution Blues
- Mary Harris – Happy New Year Blues
- Chris Farren – Happier New Year
- Jo Anne Campbell – Happy New Year Baby
- The Heartbeats – After New Year’s Eve
- Mary Chapin Carpenter – New Year’s Day
- Regina Spektor – New Year
- Andrew Bird – Auld Lang Syne
This is just a quick mini-blog post to let you all know that I programmed the latest episode of IndieCan Radio, along with my dear friend and host Joe Chisholm! My partner Andy Yue also makes a guest appearance. He’s not as ridiculous about Christmas music as I am, but he’s an excellent sport, and has been a great help finding all of the images I’ve used to accompany my mixes.
The episode features a bunch of independent Canadian artists and several of my favourite new Christmas music discoveries!
Please listen here!
And let me know, in the comments, whose great tunes we missed!
This *might* be my last Christmas mix of the season, as I’ve really got to start doing all of those non-music-related Christmas preparations like buying and wrapping gifts, making and eating food, and most importantly spending time with the people I love. But we’ll see. It’s just as likely that this won’t be the last.
I definitely do have a New Year’s Eve mix on deck and I’m excited to tell you all that I collaborated with a friend of mine for a special Christmas edition of IndieCan Radio, and you can hear it on Tuesday!
In any case, I think this is a good one. There are so many wonderful, soulful Christmas tunes that I had an especially hard time whittling down the playlist, so I’m sure there will be a sequel one of these years. This one is great for parties, so get your dancing shoes on. Have a merry, soulful Christmas!
Tracklist (and where you can get these soulful tunes for yourselves):
- Detroit Junior – Christmas Day
- Gary Walker – Santa’s Got a Brand New Bag
- James Brown – Soulful Christmas
- Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings – Ain’t No Chimneys in the Projects
- Stevie Wonder – What Christmas Means to Me
- The Jackson 5 – Up on the House Top
- The Miracles – Christmas Everyday
- Clarence Carter – Back Door Santa
- Lee Rogers – You Don’t Have to Wait
- Rose Graham – Black Christmas
- Tina Roberts – Snow (Like the Snow)
- Martin Mull – Santafly
- J.D. McDonald – Boogaloo Santa Claus
- Binky Griptite – Stone Soul Christmas
- Soul-Saints Orchestra – Santa’s Got a Bag of Soul
- Solomon Burke – Presents for Christmas
- Fat Daddy – Holiday Baby
- Jimmy Jones & His Versatiles – Christmas is a Drag
- The Supremes – Children’s Christmas Song
- Kim Weston – Wish You a Merry Christmas
- Gary U.S. Bonds – Call Me for Christmas
- Otis Redding – Merry Christmas, Baby
- William Bell – Every Day Will Be Like a Holiday
- Captain Elmo McKenzie & The Roosters – Home on Christmas Day
- Booker T. & The MGs – Winter Wonderland
If you’d like, you can consider this a companion to Christmas Feast, because what’s a great meal without something to wash it down? Some of these songs celebrate that kind of merriment, but just as many are cautionary tales. It’s been years since I’ve been drunk during the holidays, but I’ve definitely experienced both. I’m good with just listening to the songs these days. Merry Christmas! And drink responsibly, or if you can’t, don’t drink at all. I love a tragic Christmas song more than the next guy but I don’t want to hear one about you.
Tracklist (and where you can get these drunken songs for yourselves):
- The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl – Fairytale of New York
- The Minus 5 – Your Christmas Whiskey
- The Gestalts – Cookies and Beer
- Fear – Another Christmas Beer
- Monkhouse – Guinness and Wine
- Missile Toads – Santa’s a Boozer
- Cucumbers – Ho Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum
- Clyde Lassley & The Cadillac Baby Specials – Santa Came Home Drunk
- Burl – Xmas Drink
- Commander Cody – Daddy’s Drinking Up Our Christmas
- The Decemberists – Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas)
- Roger Nichols Trio – St. Bernie the Sno-Dog
- Steve Fifield – Bootlegger Christmas
- The Burning Hell – Happy Hanukkah
- Tim Minchin – White Wine in the Sun
- Andrew Bird – So Much Wine, Merry Christmas