Several years ago, I had someone attempt to explain to me that 'Xmas' was anti-catholic terminology because the 'X' was 'Crossing out Christ.' At the time, that sounded like typical researchless christian posturing to me, but I never pursued it further. Having remembered that fiasco while assembling the mix below, I took the time to do some research and came up with the following:
Webster's World Encyclopedia 2002:
The spelling of Christmas as "Xmas" comes from an ancient Greek practice. In the Greek language, the letter "x" - shi - was the initial letter of Xristos, meaning Christ. Early scribes were busy people and parchment was costly. They often shortened words to save time and money, and that is how they came to use just the letter X. "Xmas" was retained even when these practical considerations no longer applied. Not only had it become traditional, but people believed, wrongly, that the "X" represented St Andrew's cross. An even more significant reason, perhaps, was that Jesus Christ's name was regarded as too sacred to be written in full. See Also: Christmas
So yeah, I was right. At any rate, I love music and I love Christmas, so it stands to reason that I love Christmas music. Since I'm not doing anything productive with the webspace I'm paying for this month, I've decided to offer up a 2003 xmas mp3 mix. Of the 8 songs available below, more than half are 'cross pollinations' between christmas music and other 'favorites.' For some reason, I'm all about that. If you know of any other Christmas cross-breed music, tell me about it, pronto.
Since many of the songs below incorporate elements of the Beatles' music, you might also be interested in downloading the Christmas-centric output of the actual Beatles here.
Rest assured that I'm not dead and a proper update is 'In the works.' Happy Holidays.
P.S. I'm very seriously considering a partial 'switch' to a mac (I'll still be maintaing a windows machine). If you have any words of caution or encouragment; or if you simply have some good mac software I should 'know about,' let me know.
I found this song several years ago in a CD/LP package called 'Skookum Powered Teenage Zit Rock Angst.' The CD was included with an LP by the same title, and reproduced the contents of the LP exactly, plus some bonus tracks. This song - a lounge fusion of 'What Child is This?' and Guns N' Roses' 'Sweet Child O' Mine' - was one of those bonus tracks, and has been my favorite Christmas song since. I originally bought the LP because it featured an Eric's Trip cover of a Guess Who song, but this was obviously the real gem.
The whole package was originally released by everyone's favorite hyperactive interviewer, Nardwaur the Human-Serviette. The CD/LP is now out of print, but the 8 track edition ($3) is still available. Be Warned, however - I'm not sure if the 8 Track includes the bonus tracks.
Those desperate for a copy will be pleased to learn that it was released as a maxi-single in 1998. Used copies can be had at amazon.
This comes from an entire album of crazy Swedes fusing Christmas music and Beatles songs. Instantly great, to me at least. This was the first thing I ever 'discovered' via soulseek, and I had it queued for WEEKS before finally getting it.
The December People are/is an insane project concieved by Robert Barry, a prog Rock veteran who was worked with Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer of Emerson, Lake and Palmer fame. He gathered a bunch of studio musicians and had them play Christmas songs in the signiture styles of 10 classic rock bands. I'm recommending the Queen approximation ('I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day'), because it's spot on in every respect, the production is perfect, the sounds are all 'right,' and the vocalist even sounds like Mr. Mercury. The Yes approximation is less deserving of recommendation as a stand alone track, but I'm including it here in the interest of a more complete understanding of the breadth and accuracy of the project, as the Chris Squire rickenbacker bass sound on 'Carol of the Bells' is not to be missed.
These guys came along and stole the Rubber Band's thunder, but they did it so well I can't begrudge them their success. To the tune of 'Help!,' in perfect soundalike fashion: "Hark! The angels sing... Hark! The newborn king... etc." I was so enamored with their sample mp3 (This song) that I bought the whole 2 CD set for 11 bucks. There are a couple other inspired moments (Love me do / Joy to the world, for example), but they could've easily pared it down to one disc.
I've been a big fan of Surf rock since my formative teenage years. Recorded in 1965, The Ventures' fusion of the surf sound, Christmas music, and Billboard hits of the day is incredibly well done. The CD version has been in and out of print. I think right now it's in.
Somewhere in the 1995 / 1996 neighborhood I was obsessed with Zumpano's first album, "Look What the Rookie Did." In the past few weeks I've finally managed to gather up all the non-album odds and ends that trickled out during their brief career, and I've made them available (For the time being, at least) here. This song was among them, and it's pretty good, but do yourself a favor and click the link to download their version of the Zombies' 'Changes.'
This song is an anomoly. Let me explain: The singer of a loosely functioning band that I am occaisionally a member of decided that we should cover this song for the holidays. I, for some reason, have a vivid memory of singing this song in music class in elementary school. Several other members of this particular loosely functioning band, however, had never heard of it. In fact, VERY few people have covered it. Considering how many versions of every other christmas carol / song there are in the world, this really surprised me (AMG lists 8 versions of this song, NOT including the original. A song search for 'Silent NIght' tirns up ~ 2300 hits; 'Jingle Bells' ~ 1200). For the curious, there is a ridiculously detailed page documenting everything you could want to know about this song (Except the chords) here. The short version:
"Gift wrapped for delivery on December 24, 1953, Matilda was the first hippopotamus to ever grace the then Lincoln Park Zoo. A nation wide hit song entitled "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" performed by Oklahoma City's own ten-year-old Gayla Peevey helped the Zoo raise funds for Matilda. The $3,000 needed to buy her was collected in 13 days with contributions coming in from around Oklahoma, across the nation and even other countries. The year-and-a-half 700-pound Matilda was visited by over 5,000 people on Christmas Day. Those catching a glimpse of the Zoo's newest sweetheart must have had a short visit as Matilda's temporary quarters held only ten people at a time. She was later moved to her permanent home in the Zoo's Pachyderm building in the 1960's. Norman, the Zoo's 30-year-old male arrived in August 1967 and sired nine offspring with Matilda."
Last Year I offered the world a cover of the Venture's version of Jingle Bells. You can download the whole compilation on which this was included here. This year, I've recorded my slightly altered take on their version of 'Sleigh Ride.' I'll also be adding other Xmas songs I've contributed to this year as they are mixed. Joy!