At Country Music Pride, we love the holidays. We love all holidays. Any excuse to be happy is a good one. And one of our big guilty pleasures (and I’m sure it’s yours, too) is seasonal Christmas music, so our gift to you this year is our holiday playlist.
T-Swift replaces the ’80s synths of the Wham! holiday heartbreak classes and replaces it with jangly guitars and loads of pop sheen. The result is like lite eggnog: a holiday guilty pleasure, but one without heaviness or oversaturation, so you can feel good about it.
My Morning Jacket – “Xmas Time is Here Again”
Oh, the harmonies! Jim James Yim Yames truly has the voice of an angel.
Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers – “Hard Candy Christmas”
Dolly Parton practically invented country Christmas with her holiday Dixie Stampede show (in good ol’ Branson, Mo.), so including her vulnerable, soulful rendition of her tune from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas was a must.
Blitzen Trapper – “Christmas Is Coming Soon”
A carefully-picked, sparse acoustic track from our favorite Pacific Northwest scruffy gents, Blitzen Trapper. The actual lyrics have little do with Christmas other than the chorus, but trust us, it’s still pretty great.
Gretchen Wilson – “I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas”
The original Gayla Peevy version of this song was already an adorably goofy holiday favorite of ours. But even better is this cover from our favorite redneck party girl Gretchen Wilson, with a little help from her daughter and her daughter’s classmates. The song debuted at Charlie Daniels’ Christmas for Kids concert at the Ryman in Nashville to a sold-out audience. And hippopotamuses like it too.
Dan Crary – “What Child Is This?”
We found this cover by bluegrass legend Dan Crary on a Putumayo “Christmas Around the World” compilation. It’s the only instrumental on our mix and the only bluegrass track, but it’s a telling reminder of Crary’s virtuosity and an equisite, intricate take on the tune.
Two of the most talented young vocalists in pop country take on the classic fireside duet so well, it’ll make you want to get away from the family for a while and just cuddle up next to that special someone by the fire.
Leave it to Toby to inject some swagger, sass and cheekiness into a country Christmas compilation. “I saw mommy kissing Toby Keith…”
When he wasn’t making music about states or Christian allegories, folk overachiever Sufjan Stevens put his nose to the festive grindstone and made not one, but five Christmas albums, which include both original holiday songs and covers. This twangy, banjo-tinged ditty radiates happiness with an almost childlike take on Christmas and an infectious “la la la” refrain. Sufjan’s reworkings of the old hymns are worth checking out, too –– his version of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” is heartbreakingly beautiful.
Braddy takes on a winter classic. Good, clean countryfied caroling.
A gentle, warm cover of a Christmas classic, taken from one of the A Very Special Christmas albums. Folkie Chapman’s voice even sounds like a perfect-temperature coffee or a hot toddy going down your throat with a satisfying “ahhh” at the end. The harmonies at the beginning alone are worth giving this acoustic cover a listen.
Todd Snider – “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore”
OK, so it’s not actually a Christmas song –– nor is it a Chanukah song, for that matter –– and it may offend our more delicate of readers, but Todd Snider is one of our favorite contemporary artists and Kinky Friedman, who wrote the song and performed it with his Texas Jewboys, is an old hero of ours, and the combination of the two give a much-needed dose of brashness, vitality and a much-needed tell-it-like-it-is sense of humor to the fairly saccharine holiday season. And if you don’t like it, then you can go back to listening to “Christmas Shoes” and watching the Hallmark Channel, you pansy.
We had to include something from the Bob Dylan Christmas Album, mostly because it’s just too completely insane not to. Duh.
A haunting contribution from the legend himself, backed by a choir and a lone piano. The Man in Black offers a piece of heavenly peace to close out CMP’s holiday mixtape.