Despite the fact that it feels like mid-May here on the east coast, I can’t help but be in the grip of Christmas spirit. I mean, if new Star Wars movies can’t make you feel like a little kid heading into the holidays, being able to shoot some hoop on an outdoor court two weeks before December 25 sure will do the trick.
This year’s mix finds me in fine fettle, as they say, and I hope it does for you and yours as well. When I was putting it together over the last few weeks, I spent a good deal of time listening to some older mixes and was struck by being able to tell that I’d made them during some rather gloomy times, personal and not-so-personal. And with that in mind, the title of one of the first songs I knew I’d put into this compilation–“No Sad Songs” by The Lilac Time–kept popping into my head, and it ended up being the title and thesis for this year’s collection.
Not that there aren’t a few sad tunes that snuck through. You get a chance to put a song by Joe Pernice and Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub into your mix, you just do it, regardless, and that’s how that New Mendicants tune made the cut. It does mean a late switch on what is hopefully an annual tradition from Aimee Mann and Ted Leo. Those two legends record together as The Both, and I was all set to go with their morose 2014 holiday song when they hit out with a 2015 tune that is anything but sad in “You’re a Gift.”
Another thing I enjoy doing this each year is discovering songs I never knew about. I’d always wanted to find a spot for Harry Nilsson’s rendition of “Snow”, a song that Randy Newman wrote. For whatever reason, I’ve never found the right spot for it. Then I found out that Nilsson wasn’t the first to cover it; a few years before he did it, Claudine Longet had a hit with it and her version is just amazing. You younguns should probably just enjoy the magical sound that song here and not actually look up more info on Ms. Longet because…eeesh. (Though her escapades did result in one of the funniest early SNL found footage sketches ever.)
There’s also a real familiar tune that gets an amazing remake thanks to Mark Kozelek, sometimes known as either “that guy in Red House Painters” or “that guy in Sun Kil Moon” or “that guy in Almost Famous”. Mark can be a bit prickly, but he put out a wonderful Christmas record last year that totally works. (On another song on his record there’s a great exchange in mid tune that has him being told that of all the Mark Kozeleks at Christmas, he’s the most Mark Kozelek-iest, and if you don’t think I didn’t seriously consider that as a title for this year’s mix, you don’t know me well enough.)
Other highlights for me include a couple of nice jazzy takes from an old master (Sir Duke) and a newer one (if you’d have told 1990 me that John Zorn would have something to do with a really great and winsome remake of a beloved Christmas tune, I’d have been utterly bewildered by that.) I got to use a song by The Bats, which is awesome. Oh, and if our title cut artist sounds familiar to you, The Lilac Time is the band fronted by Stephen Duffy, who was once the original lead singer of Duran Duran. Yes, that Duran Duran. Finally, I can’t imagine that Christmas was a big holiday growing up for Cornershop’s Tjinder Singh, but damned if he doesn’t just nail it with “Every Year So Different.”
At any rate, as per usual, this is all one big file and stuff, a big ol’ sloppy musical holiday present from me to all of y’all. Click the big title below to download it from Dropbox. If you have a Dropbox account and are already signed in, you can also just stream it if that’s your thing.
1. Lisa Mychols, “Lost Winter’s Dream”
2. The Both (Aimee Mann & Ted Leo) “You’re A Gift”
3. JD McPherson “Twinkle (Little Christmas Star)”
4. Cornershop ft. Trwbador “Every Year So Different”
5. Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings “Funky Little Drummer Boy”
6. The Dum Dum Girls “On Christmas”
7. Deidre and the Dark “Ghost of Christmas Past
8. Billie Holliday “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm (Yesking Remix)”
9. Duke Ellington “Sugar Rum Cherry”
10. New Mendicants “A Very Sorry Christmas”
11. The Love Me Nots “Santa Bring My Baby Back To Me”
12. Glasvegas “Please Come Back Home”
13. Claudine Longet “Snow”
14. Mark Kozelek “The Christmas Song”
15. Neil Halstead “The Man In The Santa Suit”
16. John Zorn “Christmas Time Is Here”
17. The Boy Least Likely To “A Happy Christmas Baby”
18. The Bats “December Ice”
19. The Orange Peels “Grey Holiday”
20. The Leisure Society “2000 Miles”
21. The Lilac Time “No Sad Songs”
22. Ah Shane, ya never let me down lad.