it’s the time of year when, as crazy old phil spector goes back to his murder trial with yet another crazy hairstyle, we should remember the absolute genius of the man. I don’t know why but this year I have been infected with holiday spirit and here’s my playlist that keeps me sane while I pour the soy eggnog over the maker’s mark — yum.
1. a christmas gift for you from phil spector. highlights: ‘marshmallow world’ and ‘christmas (baby please come home)’ by darlene love. buy it here
2. vince guaraldi trio, a charlie brown christmas. I went to a real-life christmas pageant last week and it was amazingly reminiscent of this classic jazzy collection.
3. the pogues and kirsty maccoll, ‘fairy tale of new york’. living in the UK, one hears this song over the holidays hundreds of times, in pubs, in shops, on tv, etc. drunk brits select the track at karaoke following falling-down-drunk xmas lunches. good old shane used to be my neighbor in london, and kirsty (rest in peace) was one of my favorite lady songwriters ever. be like a proper brit and learn the lyrics and sing along or watch it here.
4. pytor illych tchaikovsky: the nutcracker suite. nothing says magic like the dance of the sugarplum fairies. if you have a chance to go to the ballet, oh do.
5. the pines, christmas EP, especially ‘chalet’ and ‘high street’. southeast london’s brightest folk-pop stars made an EP that really should have topped the billboard charts, if people weren’t stupidly buying other dumb things like *christmas with toby keith*, or *shania twain sings the holiday classics* or *hannah montana: what a dork*. hear it here, here and here.
6. the flaming lips, ‘white christmas’. just like wayne coyne himself, this version is warped, whimsical and wonderful. the only band that’s ever mattered from oklahoma city has also made their own kooky holiday film: buy their christmas on mars DVD here.
7. low, ‘just like christmas’. the first time I saw low, I had to walk through like three feet of snow to get there and when I did get there, the poor dears had just driven 17 hours to get to nyc and there were just three of us in the audience (and one was their then-A&R woman). they are a very wintery band indeed! here’s a lovely track.
8. jens lekman, ‘maple leaves’. it’s not a christmas song you say? but surely it almost is.
9. aztec camera, ‘walk out to winter’. our man roddy — he used to be so great.
10. robert gordon or elvis presley, ‘blue christmas’. here is elvis singing the holiday classic. I kind of prefer robert gordon’s — he’s a classic rockabilly dude I used to see tons when I was small.
11. kiki & herb, do you hear what we hear? if you can track down the xmas song stephin merritt wrote for them, hear it. best idea: go see kiki & herb (oh, wait, did they split up?) at xmastime, preferably not at a big fancy venue like queen elizabeth hall but a cozy place like fez. oh, that used to cheer me up.
12. vashti bunyan, winter is blue.
okay people, tell me what I forgot! what are your faves?