Hardly a day goes by (not true) when someone doesn’t ask, “Mike, when is the annual Just Wright Citrus Christmas jam list coming out?”
Well, I admit it fell off the radar. That whole Beverly Hills rat episode unnerved me a bit.
And, while we should have done this a week ago, Christmas is still a few days off and that’s plenty of music-listening time.
Before I get to the list, a few caveats.
This is my current list. It has changed, of course, over time. Gone are old favorites like “White Christmas,” “Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer,” and, yes, even Springsteen’s “Santa Claus is Comin' to Town.”
Looking at those three might lead one to wonder just where my musical tastes lie. I would say…undefinable. Let’s leave it there.
Pandora has allowed me to expand those horizons even further. Any of my lists can include a healthy batch of rock, acoustic, Christian, classical, blues and stuff that has no label. In fact, I’m not sure where half of these Christmas songs came from.
One specific influence: Trans-Siberian Orchestra. That’s some powerful Christmas message music right there.
This isn’t exclusive and in no order but you get the highlights. So, let’s Deck the Halls (technically not on the list):
“Greensleeves” by The Tourmaliners. Sounds like a Christmas mix between "The Munsters" theme and "Wipeout."
“Must be Santa” by Bob Dylan. What a fun song. Tell me you can listen to this without singing along. Also works in July.
“I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” I had to look up who’s singing my favorite version: A Great Big World. The song has an interesting story. Great family singalong with the windows down while stuck in traffic on S.R. 44.
“Unwrap you at Christmas.” The song is hokey but it’s The Monkees. Need I say more?
“Baby, it’s Cold Outside.” My version is Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone from “Elf.” Now. I know this song has come under scrutiny in recent years over its admittedly questionable lyrics (“Say, what’s in this drink?”), but try enjoying this sultry, jazzy duo without analyzing the deep meaning.
“Joy to the World.” Aretha Franklin. Gospel. Praise. Celebration. Goosebumps each time.
“What is Christmas?” This is one of several Trans-Siberian Orchestra songs on my list. Trying to describe them would be futile. Powerful music, powerful lyrics. And the concerts live up to their billing.
“Little Drummer Boy” For King and Country. I saw this band a few years ago and they opened the show with “Little Drummer Boy,” which apparently is its signature song. It’s a good one, for sure.
(I very much enjoyed The Little Drummer Boy version of my youth, the one we all think about, until fourth grade. That’s when my sadistic teacher forced the entire class, dressed up like nutcrackers, to march to Little Drummer Boy for the entertainment of the entire school, which laughed at us. I better move on before I start crying.)
“Christmas Blues” by Canned Heat. Oh yeah.
“Santa’s Gonna Kick your…” By The Arrogant Worms. The entire title has a word I can’t use here, but safe to say this isn’t the cute Santa song you want to teach your 9-year-old. This song also plays well in July because it’s just so fun.
“Christmas Song” from Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds. Many years ago, before the internet kids, we listened to music on compact discs. I searched each late November for that year’s Christmas CD. I invariably found Christmas treasures like this one.
“Linus and Lucy.” The Charlie Brown Christmas theme song. Good for any day of the year.
“Thunderstruck.” From “The Holiday Tribute to AC/DC.” I mean…can’t miss, right?
“O Holy Night.” It’s my favorite Christmas song (“Fall on your knees!”) and the only one I can play on the keyboard here at Just Wright Citrus World Headquarters on the shores of Big Lake Henderson. Now, to clarify: When I say “play on the keyboard” I mean play the notes with my right hand. There is no melody in my keyboard music.
Now that I’ve spilled my Christmas music beans, let’s hear some of yours. ‘Tis the season — til Sunday.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.