My favorite Christmas album has to be Jingle All the Way by Béla Fleck and the Flecktones. They move seamlessly from Bach fugues to funky bass solos to Tuvan throat singing. Doesn't get much better than that!
I've been on a little bit of a Planxty kick recently, so the next song on my playlist is a bit performed by Paul Brady. "Arthur McBride" isn't really about Christmas, but it does take place on Christmas day, and that's good enough for me! I first heard this song on a late night drive from Chapel Hill, NC to Southern Pines, SC on our recent tour of the southeast.
Growing up in Bear, Delaware, I remember the Christmas soundtrack being a mix of Bing Crosby and Mannheim Steamroller. Nothing says "80s Christmas" like the signature electronic fusion sounds of Manhnheim Steamroller...
My family's favorite Christmas movie is White Christmas. We used to watch it the day after Thanksgiving every year. There are so many great songs to choose from, but "Count Your Blessings" is perhaps my favorite. It's got a good message and a great croon.
My personal favorite Christmas movie is Lord of the Rings (yes, all three). Watching the full extended version of LOTR has become an annual tradition of mine and started when I was the only one left in my apartment waiting to sing Christmas eve services. "Concerning Hobbits" always puts me in the holiday spirit.
Now, those are my favorite Christmas movies. I also happen to have a favorite Christmas musical fable. And of course it's composed by the inimitable John Rutter. I had the pleasure of playing the eponymous role in the Reluctant Dragon during graduate school, and it's become an annual favorite of mine ever since. The "Banquet fugue" is sung during the celebratory feast after the townsfolk think they've killed the dragon...
Next on the list are my two Chanticleer picks. During college, I sang the tenor line in the anonymous "There is no rose" and fooled everyone into thinking my falsetto was my modal voice. Who would have thought there was a career in that?
The next track is my all-time favorite Christmas hymn, "Lo, how a rose e'er blooming" (arr. Michael Praetorius). I think Chanticleer absolutely knocks it out of the park on this recording.
The last two tracks are from an awesome and unique album called Folkjul: A Swedish Folk Christmas. Two of my closest friends introduced it to me a couple of years ago (hello Anna and Tim!). The choir sounds fantastic, the arrangements are gorgeous, the organ improvisation is dope, and the kulning (look it up) is otherworldly.