Christmas music. Some people hate it, most of us love it, but we get tired of hearing the same fifteen songs being recorded and rerecorded by different artists and overplayed on the radio. So I went on a hunt. Thanks to the generosity of folks who have placed rare gems on the web, I’ve collected a stack of fun videos that are not the same fifteen songs about Christmas, New Year’s, and enjoying the winter holidays… not the ones typically played in the US (the UK and Ireland seem to rotate more of their music, so some of the tracks may be more familiar to anyone reading in those countries!) They’ve been assembled into playlists, so you can crank up the volume on your computer speakers, or play it on your phone. All in all, it’s well over two hours of music. Consider it just one of our presents back to you!
There are fifteen interesting tracks from the 1940s you may not know as well here, bookended by the Andrews Sisters, who sing both “Christmas Island” and the “Merry Christmas Polka”.
And here’s a list of lesser-known 1950s Christmas and other holiday tunes, such as Stan Freberg’s “Green Christmas,” Gracie Fields’ “Little Donkey,” Joni James’ “Nina Non,” Cathy and Elliot Lewis (of OTR / radio drama fame) wishing us “Happy Holidays”, and Louis Armstrong’s “Cool Yule”.
The tracks spanning the 1960s, and into 1970 proper, are a wide range of musical styles, and show a little of what was going on in the world then. Some tracks include The Marcels’ “Merry Twistmas,” Paul and Paula’s “Holiday Hootenanny”, Bing Crosby’s fun “Christmas Dinner Country Style”, Buck Owens’ “Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy,” and yes, the Royal Guardsmen’s “Snoopy’s Christmas”. This last was a sequel to “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron,” and reflects the real-life Christmas armistice of World War I.
Then this grouping, of the 1970s and 1980s, which contains as just a smattering, Jethro Tull’s “Ring Out Solstice Bells,” David Essex’s “A Winter’s Tale”, Da Yooper’s “Rusty Chevrolet,” Jona Lewie’s “Stop the Cavalry”, Boney M’s “Zion’s Daughter”, Chris de Burgh’s “A Spaceman Came Travelling,” Merle Haggard’s “Santa Claus and Popcorn,” Sting’s “Gabriel’s Message,” “What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas”, and “Santa Claus Must Be Polish” by Bobby Vee. It also has one cheat: it ends with “Christmas Wrapping,” by the Waitresses. While it’s been covered by the Spice Girls and by the Donnas, it’s still an offbeat classic, and while it hits heavy rotation in some markets, others don’t play it so often. This is an interesting article that goes into the “how” of “Christmas Wrapping” – hosted on the songwriter’s website.
Reporter Ike Pappas last to speak to Oswald, reported his death instantly to nation; "Trailer King" LaFontaine, Jerry Reed sign off.
Reporter Ike Pappas has passed away. Pappas isn’t well known today, but did the bulk of his work in better times, after Edward R. Murrow’s passing, but when CBS was still considered a top-flight news organization. In 1987, along with hundreds of others, Pappas was fired by new CBS head Laurence Tisch after more than twenty years of service.
His most famous moment was after the assassination of John F. Kennedy; as one of many reporters waiting in a Dallas Police department basement, he asked suspected assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, “You have anything to say in your defense?” and then watched as Oswald was gunned down by Jack Ruby. The startling report can still be heard on the below video:
As a “witness to history,” this report would remain Pappas’ main legacy, but he continued to pass along important news stories to the public. Fortunately, you can hear another major piece from his career, his 1967 documentary “The Songs of Vietnam War,” online. (The website is owned by former ARVN – American Forces Vietnam Network – reporter Bob Morecock, now a psychologist teaching at Houston Community College.)
Meanwhile, two other prominent voices were silenced – “Smokey and the Bandit” actor-singer Jerry Reed and Don LaFontaine, the king of movie trailers. It’s hard to imagine a movie trailer not using LaFontaine’s characteristic starter, “In a world…”