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In a tree…. see, you need more.

I always put a lot of thought into the mix CDs that I make for friends, sometimes playing with a big selection of songs and then whittling down the contenders and messing with song orders. I’m certain that if I put this much energy into my actual writing that I would be easily on my second novel by now. I’m always so flattered when someone tells me that they listen to a mix over and over, and very happy when I learn that a mix has introduced them to a new favorite artist. So this year, I made a holiday Weetamix for some friends (as well as the alumni of the Holiday Card Exchange) and here are the liner notes:

Bob and Doug McKenzie ‘ Twelve Days of Christmas
Starting it off on a funny note. Actually, since there’s mostly talking in this song, it needed to be at the beginning of the disc, as that is the correct order of things. I don’t know why, it just is. Anyway, I included this because it makes me laugh. And a beer. In a tree. HEEE! Yes, easily amused, I know.

Sleigh Ride ‘ Squirrel Nut Zippers
There are only two versions of this song that I like: this one and the one by Karen Carpenter, whose voice is so painfully perfect that I am just in awe when I hear her songs. And really, you can’t go wrong with the Zips. They have heavy brass and they know how to use it, something not a lot of bands these days understand.

Come On-a My House ‘ Rosemary Clooney
This was to be the first of the non-holiday specific songs (although technically, ‘Sleigh Ride’ doesn’t specifically mention a holiday, it’s still associated with Christmas), and actually was going to be the background music for the Journalcon DC Sweet Suite party minimovie that never actually happened. But then, upon listening to it again on my way home from school one night, I realized that she does actually say the words ‘Christmas treats’, so there it is. Accidentally a Christmas song. Who knew?

Santa Baby ‘Madonna
I love this song. If I do karaoke between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, this is the first song I’ll sing. There are many people who consider the Madonna version sacrilege, but I’m not fond of Marilyn Monroe’s singing voice and Eartha Kitt sounds sort of’ doped up or something. And I think Madonna took this exactly where it needed to go, although I have to say that I hate how she delivers the ‘I don’t mean on the phone’ line.

Baby Wants a Diamond Ring’Squirrel Nut Zippers
Our first official non-holiday song makes an appearance. But nothing says the holidays like presents. And engagements. And ultimatums. This seemed to be the logical bookend for Santa Baby, so it went here.

‘Zat You Santa Clause ‘ Louis Armstrong
I very much adore Louis. It was a tough choice between this and the Baby It’s Cold Outside duet with Ella Fitzgerald, but with a coin toss, Louis gets to his solo. Love those trumpets, baby.

Mr. Grinch’Mojo Nixon
My love of Mojo Nixon goes back to my teenage punk girl years. If the Dead Milkmen were listening to Mojo Nixon, you knew he had to be cool. I even put Elvis Is Everywhere on one of mix tapes I made for Esteban early in our courtship and quickly converted another disciple. Anyway, Mojo has that lovely growly rasp that edged out the other contender in this slot, Tom Wait’s ‘Christmas Card from a Hooker’.

Christmas Don’t Be Late ‘ The Chipmunks
I had to include this because when I was four and used to go to my stepfather’s family’s house, his sister would play several of her little 45s, and my absolute favorite was this song. I thought it was hysterical when I was four, and it still makes me smile.

Winter Weather ‘ Squirrel Nut Zippers
I originally was going to choose between this one and Sleigh Ride because this mix is probably a little Zip-heavy, but I decided, hell, it’s MY mix cd, damn it. And officially, not a holiday song, but still kept with my retro slant.

The Way You Look Tonight’Frank Sinatra
Ok, totally not a holiday song. Not even a little. But in my opinion, the holidays are about love and family, probably moreso than, say, Valentine’s or whatever. Also, you need that big 1940’s classic sound in December to keep you warm. Maybe a stogie and a glass of scotch on the rocks, too.

All I Want for Christmas Is You ‘Olivia Olson
I like this song, but I loathed it after Mariah Carey ruined it. And then I heard this version in ‘Love Actually’ and remembered why I adore this song. And doesn’t it just make you all warm inside and a little giddy, like someone just asked you to dance in the gymnasium under a spinning disco ball? No? Just me then?

Last Christmas ‘ Jimmy Eat World
I have a confession to make. I sort of love the Wham version, but like sauer kraut or Abba, I understand that not everyone shares my love, so I put this newer version on the disc in homage to George and that other guy. Guilty feet have got no rhythm. Oh no they do not.

Oi to the World ‘ No Doubt
Jake put this on the holiday CD he sent me last year and I love it. And also, politically correct equality for other holidays on the disc! Except that I have nothing for Kwanza or Festivus or, um, the other ones. But look at Gwen Stefani’s abs!

Christmas Time ‘ The Smashing Pumpkins
This one seemed to balance out the angsty feel of Last Christmas, and also, if you sort of squint your eyes, it sounds like a Coca-Cola commercial.

Calling ‘ Leona Naess
This is another non-holiday song, but it does mention angels, so maybe it’s another stealth Christmas song like the Rosemary Clooney thing above. It’s probably the newest song on the list, as I think it just came out on the soundtrack for the sequel to Bridget Jones’s Diary. Anyway, I love Leona’s voice and I love how optimistic this is, and yet, the yearning in her voice is palpable. And again, what are the holidays about if not for love? Yes. I am a big schmoopy pants.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas ‘The Pretenders
I’m not crazy about this song in general, because it’s overly optimistic. Why promise that our troubles will be out of sight? Someone’s in a lot of denial. However, Chrissy Hynde sells it. I would like to declare that no one but Chrissy Hynde may ever sing this song again. (Osmonds, I’m looking your way.) She’s seen some troubles. She sounds like a truckstop waitress who drives a 79 Pinto and has two kids at home who need jackets for winter, but their fathers don’t help with the child support. And the future, it has to be better. And we want to believe Chrissy Hynde. Because if we don’t believe her, we’d have to give up living. We would also like to know if Chrissy Hynde needs to borrow a few bucks, just to get her by until payday or something? You got milk and cereal for those kids? Want me to stop at the store and get them some Corn Pops or Cheerios or something?

God Only Knows ‘ The Beach Boys
This isn’t a Christmas song, but you’d never know it for the jingle bells in the background. Or tambourines. Whatever. It’s another schmoopy song and seemed to belong right here, though. Especially since we’re practically slitting our wrists after Chrissy Hynde’s kids are telling her that it’s ok if Santa doesn’t bring them a Bratz doll this year.

Medley ‘Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
Otherwise known as the ‘Etoys’ song. It has taken me two years to desensitize myself to this song, otherwise I’d get all misty-eyed as soon as I’d hear the first strums of the ukulele. This man’s voice is just lovely and it makes me happy, especially when he hits the high notes. And because it was really hard to transition from this song to anything else, it went at the end, which is appropriate, as it is the polar opposite of the McKenzie Brothers. And besides, how else would you finish up a mix that had the audacity to pair Frank Sinatra and the Chipmunks with Mojo Nixon and the little girl from “Love Actually”? Well, a medley with “Somewhere over the Rainbow” and “What a Wonderful World”, sung by a giant Hawaiian, of course.

The comments section wants to know what your favorite all time Holiday song is.

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