Today is the day after Thanksgiving here in the United States of America. You’re officially allowed to start listening to holiday music now. To get you started, I compiled a playlist of what I consider to be 100 of the best Christmas songs. Okay, 98 songs, a stand-up routine and a skit. It’s a mix of standards, versions of standards with which you may not be familiar, and obscure but delightful tunes.
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As you may have heard, our sleepy little hamlet of Los Angeles got some rain over the past week. I assume you heard this because Los Angeles is the center of the world and our weather is likely reported everywhere, especially when we get rain, which lesser cities take for granted. More rain is forecast for this week.
If you were near a radio in the United States in 1972, you heard Albert Hammond’s hit single “It Never Rains in Southern California,” and learned that while in L.A. it never rains, it pours. Man, it pours.
Today’s playlist consists of songs with word rain or some variation thereof in the title. It includes Albert Hammond’s “It Never Rains in Southern California,” one of two top forty singles Hammond had as an artist. (The other was 1974’s “I’m a Train.” Remember that one? Didn’t think so.) As a songwriter, Hammond’s hits include The Hollies’ “The Air That I Breathe,” Leo Sayer’s “When I Need You,” Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” Whitney Houston’s “One Moment in Time,” Chicago’s “I Don’t Wanna Live Without Your Love,” Ace of Base’s “Don’t Turn Around,” Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson’s “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” and The Pipkins’ “Gimme Dat Ding.” His son is a founding member of The Strokes.
Back to the weather. Get your umbrella and enjoy today’s playlist while the sun is still shining.
The coolest thing about Willie Nelson is his non-conformity. A country music legend who, unlike many of his peers, isn’t always seen in a cowboy hat and who supports progressive positions on marriage equality (pro), the war in Iraq (anti), the legalization of marijuana (pro) and solar power (pro).
The coolest thing about Willie Nelson is his compassion. He is the president of Farm Aid and in 1985, with Neil Young and John Mellencamp, set up the series of Farm Aid concerts that raised over $9 million for American farmers in its first year. He is on the Board of Directors of the Animal Welfare Institute and has campaigned for the better treatment of horses as well as for calves raised to produce milk for dairy products.
The coolest thing about Willie Nelson is this photo:
The coolest thing about Willie Nelson is his hit “On the Road Again.”
The coolest thing about Willie Nelson is that he charted with a cover of “Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly Fond Of Each Other” as Brokeback Mountain was doing well at the box office.
The coolest thing about Willie Nelson is that he wrote “Crazy” and “Funny How Time Slips Away” and “Hello Walls.”
Willie Nelson is cool. Today he turns 81. Here is a small sampling of his work.
At the 1974 Grammy Awards, the award for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or a Group went to The Pointer Sisters. Their recording of “Fairytale,” written by sisters Anita and Bonnie Pointer and also nominated for Best Country Song, bested recordings by Willie and Tracy Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge, Bobby Bare and Bobby Bare Jr. and The Statler Brothers. (Only family acts were nominated that year.) That same year The Pointer Sisters became the first African-American vocal act to perform at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry.
Country wasn’t the only genre at which the sisters excelled. They’re best known for their many pop hits, r&b hits and dance hits. They also performed and recorded jazz, bebop, gospel, funk and rock.
Today Tunes du Jour celebrates the birthday of Anita Pointer with a small sampling of tracks on which she sang lead.
You may have heard that last week on Fox Megyn Kelly said the real title of the song “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” is “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town and He’s White and Just Because It Makes You Feel Uncomfortable Doesn’t Mean It Has To Change.” She also said “Here Comes Santa Claus” is actually “Here Comes Santa Claus and He’s White and Just Because It Makes You Feel Uncomfortable Doesn’t Mean It Has To Change.” She was fine with “White Christmas.”
Kelly, who is white and just because that makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change, will enjoy today’s playlist. It’s part 3 of An Atheist Jew’s Guide to Christmas Music. (Click to listen to parts 1 and 2.) She may take issue with an atheist Jew selecting Christmas songs, but she’ll be happy I’m white, just like Santa and Jesus and Frosty and Rudolph. Artists on today’s playlist include such great white folks as Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, James Brown, The Jackson 5, The Beach Boys, Stevie Wonder, Rufus Wainwright, The Supremes, Eagles, Whitney Houston, The Temptations, Paul Simon, Pearl Jam, Boy George, Elvis Presley and Joan Jett, among others. There are classic songs and some you may not have heard before. I doubt Kelly is familiar with Pansy Division’s “Homo Christmas” and she may not like what the band suggests one does with a candy cane, but just because that makes her feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change. Besides, Pansy Division is white, just like everyone is at Christmas time.
Enjoy! May your days be merry and bright and may all your Christmases be white with a capital W.