Holiday music: with or without Christmas


I’m a sucker for Christmas

I say "Christmas"
unabashedly, because that’s what my Southern Baptist family celebrated.
I think I was in high school before I realized that the only reason
my Jewish classmates were happy about the holidays was, well, the holidays.
(Soon after, I noticed that they got extra holidays, and I contemplated
a conversion. At least until my parents found out.) Around the same
time, I learned that rather than be offended by Christmas, the Jewish community found it to be a great source of humor.

One of my favorite parts of
the season was going with my Daddy to the Firestone store for the latest
Firestone Christmas album. (We got the Goodyear albums, too, but Firestone
had lyrics on the back. Firestone also had
Julie Andrews

Apparently I’m not alone —
at least one person makes a living from selling the albums and transferring
them to CD. One thing that can’t be duplicated is the smell of a freshly
opened album. Sorry, Generations X, Y & Z.

Happily, several sites are devoted to reliving those high-fidelity holiday moments.
On a few, albums from the voices of Christmas past "have been lovingly
recorded, declicked, decrackled and dehissed," as Hi-Fi Holiday puts it, and are available for online streaming or download, depending on the site.
One of my favorites,, includes liner notes for many of
the LPs. Ernie (Not Bert) is
not exclusively a holiday music site, but it devotes most of December to
sharing favorite tracks. This site is about all things Christmas and features
music posts based on its own unique criteria.

I even have some background
music to accompany your search for your favorites — a custom-made Christmas mix. I made this without regard to political
correctness, so if you’re not a Christmas person, skip ahead. I didn’t
forget you.

For music lovers who prefer
less Christmas in their holidays, the pickings are a bit slim. You can
find general winter and holiday songs at the Christmas music sites,
but you have to work at it. AccuRadio offers a few channels with non-traditional
holiday music, but Christmas songs do pop up. Of course, if your goal
is to drive the person in the next cube insane, AccuRadio is perfect. Select "The
Jingle Channel," turn it up and go to lunch. You didn’t hear that
from me.

The one source we always can
count on to present alternatives is NPR. And the network’s music site does not disappoint. You can stream
Paul Winter
‘s 28th annual Winter Solstice Celebration

— two hours’ worth — here. Each year, Winter assembles an incredible
group of musicians from around the world at New York’s Cathedral of
St. John the Divine for this concert. Yes, you’ll hear some religious
melodies, but if you’ll just let the music flow over you, I doubt you’ll

In light of the dearth of non-Christmas
holiday music available for free download, plus the fact that Spot DJ
seems to be having server overload issues, making a Seasonal mix was something of a challenge. I ended
up with a sort of winter-holiday, feel-good, peace-on-earth mix. Let
me know what you think.

What are your favorite holiday
classics? Do you secretly look forward to the Handel’s Messiah sing-along? Do you fill your iPod with Christmas
tunes this time of year? Or are you tired of hearing the sad tale of
Frosty’s watery demise? What’s on your holiday mix tape? If you make
one, be sure to post the link.

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