Coming in on top of our countdown is Bruce Springsteen’s cover of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” Originally recorded by Eddie Cantor, this cover is a nod to the Motown (and Phil Spector) covers of the 1960s. SANTA BETTER GIVE CLARENCE THAT NEW SAXOPHONE!
Eddie Cantor’s version is super cute version from 1934.
MERRY CHRISTMAS, ALL!
At our penultimate stop on the countdown is a beautiful tune by Joni Mitchell. Another Non-Christmas Christmas song, “River” is actually about overcoming and the wish to escape heartbreak. I don’t quite know (other than the setting and brief “Jingle Bells” snippet at the beginning) how it became a Christmas tune, but here we are. Turn off that ASPCA commercial and listen to Sarah McLachlan sing her cover…
Joni explains a bit of her inspiration in this live recording… I had never heard this one before researching for this series. Stunning…
Coming in at #3 is a favorite of so many…and we always looked forward to hearing it on the Letterman Christmas show year after year. Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” is just one of those tunes that you cannot help but tap the toes and sing along. Here’s a cool cover by U2 to liven up the countdown.
And here is Ms. Love making her appearance on the last Letterman show. She is just amazing…and can we just talk about that dress?!
Coming in at number 4 on the countdown is “Christmastime is Here,” originally recorded by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. Guaraldi’s smooth sweet sound provides the backdrop to some of the most memorable Peanuts gang moments. This cover sung by Diana Krall is nearly perfect in its fresh nod to the master.
And the Peanuts Kids singing the original cannot go unposted either!
WOWZA! We’ve made it to the top 5 for this year! I know not many people have been reading this blog, but it’s super nice to have something frivolous on which to focus my attention. At #5 is the Carpenters hit “Merry Christmas Darling.” I dare say that none should cover the fabulous Karen Carpenter, but Christina Peri rdoes some fine work.
And here is the inimitable Karen Carpenter on the original…
Coming in at #6 on my cover countdown is the tune “Mary Did You Know?” It’s a stunningly heart-wrenching song which encapsulates the wonder and immense responsibility Mary must have felt. Originally sung by Michael English, my favorite cover is by the Vocal band Pentatonix. They just…just…well, listen for yourselves. (Note: all music is made by human voices)
Here’s a bonus cover by CeeLo Green I just heard for the first time on Sirius XM after I typed up this list. HOLY WOWZA *sighs* the voice…*sighs*!
And finally, the original singer Michael English’s version…
With what is going on in the world today, I really don’t feel much like posting frivolous musical countdowns, or doing anything even remotely joyful right now, but here’s #7 for ya’. Co-written by the Velvet Fog (Mel Tormé) and originally recorded by Nat King Cole, The Christmas Song has seen many a cover. This one spoke to me. It gives a really cool jazz vibe to an old chestnut (roasting on an open fire). I hope it brings some brightness.
Stevie Wonder and India Arie
Here’s a late TV appearance of the great Nat King Cole singing…