Feliz Navidad, Baby! (Holiday music mix, 2018!)

December 19, 2018 at 6:00 am (Music Mixes)

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Although this Christmas feels more soggy than snowy this year, it’s absolutely that time  again, and so we’re back with a little bit of holiday musical cheer for you. I have been making these goofy music collections for 20 years now, and in all honesty this year’s mix might be my very, very favorite of all. And I don’t say that lightly either! See, when I’m putting these things together, I sometimes listen to the tracks dozens of times in a short span of time. Even with some good songs, the listener fatigue that sets in is very real.

But this year I just keep hitting repeat and starting over again. And though I’d love to take some piece of credit, I can’t. This mix is good because the artists made great songs and made putting it together a dream. I mean, let’s check some of these songs….

Early on in the mix, we’re hitting you with a snippet of an incredibly rare thing. Back around 1989 or so, Scott Miller of Game Theory recorded this goofy, sprawling thing called “A Child’s Christmas Saving The Whales” and sent the tape out to people on the band’s mailing list. It’s mostly spoken word narrative, and most of the jokes are pretty dated…but then in the middle of this thing the guy reveals some stunning musical geniusness by tossing off this 90-second song that I can’t imagine he didn’t mostly make up on the spot and then recorded to a cheap tapedeck in his bedroom. And the danged thing is just glorious even so.

And then there’s some JD McPherson. He put out a Christmas record this year called “Socks” which is the best album of all original Christmas – themed music since…ever. Really. It’s that good. This track is just a taste, but you should be spinning that record throughout the Christmas season.

Continuing, I know next to nothing about who Fascinations Grand Chorus is, other than I think they do a kind of indie dreampop thing. But their song is just a wallop of gorgeous, Spectorian production. And then there’s The Duke Spirit song. It starts off sounding like it’s a pretty OK song, and then you get to the chorus and there’s a key change and it’s goosebumps time and the track transcends into greatness.

There’s some familiar names all over this — you get a chance to put some Kacey Musgraves on your mix, you should do that, especially with Willie Nelson — including that Dean Martin track. He’s singing one of my favorite holiday-ish songs, and I can’t believe I’ve never used his original. Well, until now, anyway.  And you all know Kimberley Rew, even if you don’t realize you know him. Kim has all the hipster bona fides as Robyn Hitchcock’s songwriting foil in the legendary Soft Boys in the early 1980s, but when that band broke up, Kimberley went and started a new band called the Waves, wrote a certain song about strolling around on Sunshine, and I would imagine sits around collecting royalties for it.  Here he riffs on a goofy but typically memorable seasonal tune.

There’s other stuff here that should be less familiar. Whyte Horses are new, and their ebullient Christmas song would be juuuuust a little better if the verse melody wasn’t a note-for-note copy of The Replacements’ paean to bleak loneliness, “Swingin’ Party”.  And then there’s the Gabrielle Aplin & Hannah Grace song. I gather Ms. Aplin is famous-ish in some quarters for singing covers on Youtube. Which is a thing that people do now.  And so I was expecting “December” to bounce off me pretty hard. But holy crap, what a revelation that song is. It’s an original that suggests she or Hannah Grace or both of them need to be writing a lot more originals. And the arrangement is simply spectacular.  It’s rare that a song I’m expecting to hate leaves me with tears in my eyes by the first chorus, but there you go.

OK, I’ve yammered enough about the songs here. Only one or two repeats from previous years are on this mix as well, and I hope it brings to you and yours as much joy as its brought me to make. Merry Christmas, or Happy whatever holiday you choose to celebrate, even if it’s just some time off work or school!

As per usual, this is all one big MP3 file, with everything sequenced and mixed just so. You can stream it or save it to your own computer/device as you like.

Here’s the tracklist (Click the title to listen or “save as”):

Felix Navidad, Baby!
(Holiday Music Mix, 2018)

1. “Jingle Bells/Welcome” – Esquivel
2. “Santa Teach Me To Dance” – Debbie & The Darnells
3. “A Child’s Christmas Saving the Whales (excerpt)” – Game Theory
4. “Every Single Christmas” – JD McPherson
5. “Merry Merry Christmas” – Fascinations Grand Chorus
6. “Melt By The Morning” – The Duke Spirit
7. “Willie Nice Christmas” – Kacey Musgraves w/ Willie Nelson
8. “Love the Holidays” – Old 97s
9. “Lonely Man of Winter” – Sufjan Stevens
10.”Christmas Is” – Lou Rawls
11.”I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” – Dean Martin
12.”Whatever You Want (For Christmas)” – Dressy Bessy
13.”Thank God It’s Not Christmas” – Sparks
14.”Dear Mr. Claus” – Paul Revere & The Raiders
15.”All I Want is You For Christmas” – Kimberley Rew
16.”World Of Love” – Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
17.”Gee Whiz, it’s Christmas” – Carla Thomas
18.”December” – Gabrielle Aplin & Hannah Grace
19.”Next Year Will Be Mine” – Whyte Horses
20.”Winter Wonderland” – Darlene Love
21.”Eight Dates A Week” – The Holiday Scene
22.”Beatnik’s Wish” – Patsy Raye & The Beatniks
23.”Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” – The Beths
24.”Fairytale Of New York” – The Pogues w/ Kirsty Maccoll

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