From mid-November until the New Year radio airwaves, malls, and homes are filled with sounds of the season. And for those five weeks every year people stop to enjoy, sing along, and reminisce about the their favorite holiday songs. I’m no different. Though there are very few holiday songs that I turn away from (Feliz Navidad and Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer being a couple of them), I definitely have several that put a smile on my face, bring out the American Idol performer in me, and help me remember moments frozen in time. So as my gift to you, here is a list of my Top 5 Holiday Songs of All-time, with an honorable mention to start.
Receiving an Honorable Mention award for my Holiday Top 5 is Kenny Loggins’ Celebrate Me Home. Released in 1976, this song gets Honorable Mention because though it has become a song heard more times around the holiday, it really is a song that could be played any time of year. Only peaking at #27 on the Billboard charts in ’76, this Loggins classic has gained in popularity over the years.
Kicking off my Top 5 Holiday Songs of All-time is Nat King Cole’s 1953 classic, The Christmas Song (Chestnuts). Written in 1944 by Mel Torme, The Nat King Cole Trio first made this a hit in 1946. It wasn’t until years later that Cole himself created it into the Hall of Fame hit that it now is. Torme states that he remembers jotting down various lines like: ‘chestnuts roasting on an open fire’, ‘folks dressed up like Eskimos’, and ‘jack frost nipping at your nose’, and realizing that he may have the start of something when he first began to write the song.
At #4 on my list is the 1994 hit from Mariah Carey, All I want for Christmas is You. This Carey single reached Billboard’s Top 10 all around the world, and is considered one of the most significant additions to the holiday classics catalog in quite some time. I recall in my radio days of the 90’s that when we received this single and played it, the phone lit up like a Christmas tree! A mixture of Mariah Carey popularity and a well written song had success written all over this release.
In 1998 Vanessa Williams and Bobby Caldwell release a much-covered Christmas standard, Baby, It’s Cold Outside. Originally written in 1944 by Frank Loesser, Baby, It’s Cold Outside started to be released as a holiday duet nearly every year starting in 1949. Dinah Shore and Buddy Clark took it all the way to #4 that year on the Billboard charts. Since then, duets from Sammie Davis, Jr. and Carmen McRae, Barry Manilow and KT Oslin, as well as Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey have all solidified this song as one of the best written of all-time. Perhaps the best chemistry of this release can be heard from Williams and Caldwell though. The playfulness in their voices and easy harmony make this a wonderful song to listen to.
I guess the sentimental and romantic side of me comes out as I delve into my two favorite holiday songs of all-time. At #2 is the 1970 release from the late, great Karen Carpenter; Merry Christmas Darling. This song made it to Billboard’s #1 Christmas position in 1970, 1971, and again in 1973! Though I barely remember it then, I do know that it made an impact on me in my college days of the early 80’s. During that time my college girlfriend and I would be apart during Christmas Break, and this song hit home. Now years later, with me being lucky enough to have a wonderful wife, son and daughter, I can’t help to think of others that are maybe missing someone special to them during this time of year, and in turn are writing a Christmas card or email by starting “Merry Christmas Darling”.
Finally, time to divulge my favorite holiday song of all-time. Dan Fogelberg, who recently passed away too young, was a prominent singer-songwriter with many hit songs in the 1980’s. My #1 holiday song was written in 1981, and became an instant holiday classic. His release Same Old Lang Syne went to #9 in 1981, and is often linked to this time of year based on its storyline. Same Old Lang Syne is about two former lovers meeting for the first time in many years in a grocery store on either Christmas or New Year’s Eve. The song has them chatting and reminiscing back to better days when their lives were easier and their love was strong. During the song, Fogelberg weaves some powerful lines. “We laughed until we cried” and “she said she married her an architect who kept her warm and safe and dry…. would have liked to say she loved the man, but she didn’t want to lie” are two sets of lyrics that magically set the tone of this song. At the end, with the melody of the original Old Lang Syne (heard often at New Year’s Eve) playing, the characters find that it’s time to leave and go back to their lives. The words, “…and as I turned to make my way back home, the snow turned into rain” puts a sense of finality and closure to their former relationship, with the snow representing happiness and innocence, and the rain sadness and that finality. For many reasons, this song has always moved me. There is not one person that can say they haven’t thought of running into former relationships, and wonder what they would do when and if they did. I love the storyline along with the ebb and flow of emotion. For all of these reasons that is why Same Old Lang Syne is my favorite holiday song of all-time.
Though this list serves as only an opinion, and everyone can come up with a list of their own, I hope we all can agree that this time of year is a magical season, full of wishes and hope. Please feel free to leave your own Top 5 message, if you’d like to share.
From me at AS I SEE IT, I’d like to wish you and yours a magical Christmas, and a hopeful New Year!