Wednesday, May 23, 2018

No holiday playlist is complete without a trip 'down Santa Claus Lane'

BY GINI BARREDA

Academy of the Holy Names

I think I can speak for all of the holiday junkies out there when I say we have been scanning the radio since early last month waiting for wall-to-wall Christmas music to begin. When we found the all-Christmas all the time station at 105.5 the Dove (moved from its longtime Tampa Bay home at Magic 94.9), we were ready as well as relieved. "The most wonderful time of the year" is not complete without our most beloved tunes, even as new artists add to the list every year. (The Duck Dynasty holiday album does not count.) So, while you plan the perfect Christmas-tree-decorating playlist, make sure to consider these six favorite classics. (For playlist code, go to Page 3.)

Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane), Gene Autry, 1948

Autry was co-writer and singer of this timeless song, which hit the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles at top five and the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 at No. 9 in 1948. It is said he got the idea for this song after he rode his horse during a Santa Claus parade in 1946. As he rode the streets of Los Angeles, crowds chanted "here comes Santa Claus!" — handing him the title for his hit.

There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays, Perry Como, 1954

Perry Como's version of this Christmas classic was actually recorded twice. The first time was in 1954 when it reached No. 8 on the U.S. Billboard chart, and it was recorded again four years later with a different musical arrangement. The beginning of the song is slow but soon picks up with a jazzy composition and background chorus. Though usually associated with Christmas, the nostalgic lyrics are applicable to any holiday.

(Everybody's Waiting for) The Man With the Bag, Kay Starr, 1950

Kay Starr made popular this team effort written by Irving Taylor, Dudley Brooks and Hal Stanley. As one of the most influential pop, jazz and country music singers of the time, she brought her own unique flavor to the song about "ol' Kris Kringle." She was often referred to as "the only white woman who could sing the blues." The song ends with the perfect, sassy line "better watch out."

Wonderful Christmastime, Paul McCartney, 1979

If you're in a classic rock mood, Wonderful Christmastime by Paul McCartney is the way to go. Although critics labeled this song one of McCartney's weakest, Wonderful Christmastime is so popular it has been covered more than 15 times by more contemporary artists and bands such as Jars of Clay, Demi Lovato and Hilary Duff. Wonderful Christmastime peaked at No. 6 on the United Kingdom Singles Chart and at No. 10 on the U.S. Billboard chart. It will always rank as my No. 1 favorite Christmas song.

Santa Baby, Eartha Kitt, 1953

Convertibles, yachts, a duplex and checks are just the tip of the iceberg for Eartha Kitt in Santa Baby, her extravagant list of wishes for Christmas. The song, first recorded by Kitt with Henri René and his orchestra in New York City, has a cute tune and clever lyrics that always make you want to sing along.

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Frank Sinatra, 1950

Growing up a Sinatra fan, I have to place this timeless song among my top holiday favorites. Although Sinatra was not the first to record it, his rendition is one of the most well-known. Let It Snow is perfect for any Christmas occasion, from hanging keepsake ornaments on the tree to a rollicking Christmas dance party.

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