It’s time once again for the “Ed-benezer,” my annual Christmas music column.
Yes, Santa’s elves and reindeer are getting itchier than those new wool slacks you got as a kid to begin their upcoming Arctic Rumble to good boys and girls everywhere.
Even the misnamed reindeer Donner and Blitzen are getting mighty stoked, although their actual monikers Dunder and Blixem were changed without their permission more than a hundred years ago. There’s nothing but cold coal in the stockings for whoever did that.
There are a few new decent holiday-themed albums in the stores to tell you about to add to the usual classic pop faves by Elvis, Otis Redding and most everybody who ever recorded for Motown.
“Oops!” as Rick Perry said a few weeks back. I almost left out the still-incarcerated Phil Spector, who once again “won’t be home” for Christmas. But Spector’s production and arranging on his seminal Christmas Gift for You album, which featured the Ronettes and the Crystals, will forever remain my top Christmas pick of them all.
Have you ever wondered why most Christmas albums are chock full of carols and traditional favorites? It’s a very simple reason: Money!
Why is that, Tiny Tim?
Well, Virginia, the artist usually gets to claim the copyright for their arrangement of Jingle Bells, Silent Night and scores of other songs hundreds of years old because they are considered in the “public domain.”
No additional royalty payment is required for those Christmas chestnuts. Record one and you are paid just as if you wrote it.
Some of the popular Christmas releases ready for Santa’s sleigh include:
• Carole King: A Holiday Carole. Yes, to continue her line of punning Carol of the Bells is included but not We Three Kings of Orient Are. Why? King’s daughter Louise produced the album, leaving them obviously one King short. No, the album won’t make you feel the earth move, but it is a nice romp through the usual suspects, with a few original King compositions included as well.
• She and Him: A Very She and Him Christmas. The grammar might be faulty but the album isn’t. M. Ward has long been one of the best-kept secrets in the biz, and besides, what’s not to like about his uber-talented and lovely cohort Zooey Deschanel? The album is as hip and delicious as a warm mug of wassail.
• Scott Weiland: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. What would Andy Williams think about this? Weiland is the last guy one would think would ever record a Christmas album. The former Stone Temple Pilots/Velvet Revolver singer just might have needed a house payment or two …
• A Skaggs Family Christmas Volume 2: No, Boz is nowhere to be found (just kidding.) Skaggs and kin have another winner to go along with the first volume from 2005. Good pickin’, fine singing, and it includes a bonus DVD recorded at the Ryman to boot.
• Michael Buble: Christmas. Y’know, I always had Buble pegged as a modern version of the hapless Harry Connick Jr., but in the true spirit of Christmas I must admit I was wrong. He’s the real deal and the disc swings and bops with a cool jazz vibe. Besides, the dude’s funny! Rat Pack 2011 perhaps?
LAST WEEK’S contest winner is Doug Flanagan, of Augusta, who takes home a beautiful, fully-frocked Christmas tree from Fat Man’s Forest. Remember, the Fat Man’s got ’em! Ask for Horace at the counter next to the yummy boiled peanuts.
TURNER’S QUICK NOTES: Hearty Yuletide congrats are in order to the Augusta Players. Last weekend’s performances of A Christmas Carol – The Musical was the perfect prelude to the holiday season … Jim Brickman and friends trot out the hits and seasonal favorites Dec. 17 at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Theatre in Atlanta …
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!