Dec 13 2010

10 best Christmas songs…

Greta Christina has a new post about a story she wrote for AlterNet…trying to list the 10 best Christmas songs for atheists.

I don’t like the rules of this particular meme…which is why I wasn’t happy with her list (this isn’t a knock on Greta who I really like and look forward to talking to at the American Atheists National convention in April, as we’re both on the speakers’ list…but screw the rules, let’s go for fun!).

So, in no particular order, here are my 10 favorite Christmas songs (or at least 10 that I really like)…irrespective of any rules:

1. Billy Squier – Christmas Is the Time to Say I Love You.
(This was the intro music for Saturday’s Non-Prophets and it’s downloadable content in Rock Band…what’s not to love?)
2. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy – Snowmeiser Heatmeiser
(This hip reworking of the Rankin/Bass classic is one I can listen to over and over and over and…)
3. The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping
(This video includes decent audio and a geeky synchronized Xmas light show.)
4. John Lennon – Happy Christmas (War Is Over)
(What’s not to love?)
5. Robert Earl Keene – Merry Christmas from the Family
(If parts of this song seem mildly familiar — you might be a redneck)
6. Brenda Lee – Rockin Around the Christmas Tree
(How did this miss even an honorable mention on Greta’s list?)
7. Elmo and Patsy – Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer
(Unfortunately, I was only able to find this and remixes and not the original version)
8. The Beach Boys – Little Saint Nick
(This was close…but from the opening notes, I just want to listen to it.)
9. Gene Autry – Here Comes Santa Claus
(Yes, it says “say your prayers” “thanks to the lord above” and I couldn’t care less…)
10. Dean Martin – Baby It’s Cold Outside
(Because it’s my list and there has to be some Deano…Sway isn’t sufficiently Christmas-y, but this counts. Winter Wonderland is nice, but this is better.)

Obviously, there are many other songs and covers that I could add or change. But it’s a quick list of songs I’m happy to listen to this season…


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  1. 1

    I haven't really been able to enjoy "Baby It's Cold Outside" since I realized that it's basically a song about date rape.

  2. 2

    In my case, it depends of the interpretation. And I love the religious carols, as long as they are well interpreted Among my favorite Christmas songs are the ones in A Charlie Brown Christmas. I also love Jessye Norman's Christmastide, which my brothers and I used as background music for Dungeons & Dragons games.

  3. 3

    Oh, and for the french speakers among you, there is "23 Décembre" by the group Beau Dommage, a local Québec classic and a great piece of nostalgia.

  4. 4

    Gotta add a Canadian perspective to this and nominate Bob & Doug McKenzie's 12 Days of Christmas. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACApP94ei14

  5. 5

    What about White Wine in the Sun by Tim Minchin?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCNvZqpa-7Q

  6. 6

    Tim Minchins White Wine in the Sun is awesome. One of my favourites is also Winter Symphony by The Beach Boys: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahOa1f1e-Tw

  7. 7
    J Newbs

    "Father Christmas" by The Kinks and "Christmas in Hollis" by Run DMC are my favorites that haven't been mentioned yet.

  8. 8

    That weird-ass "Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer" made it but Darlene Love's Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) didn't?… lame :PI also really like Enya's version of Oíche Chiún(a.k.a. "Noche de Paz," a.k.a "Silent Night"). Only in Irish Gaelic, though, it sucks in English and Spanish. Although, it obviously breaks the rule as well.

  9. 9
  10. 10

    Someone beat me to Tim MinchinStan Rogers "First Christmas"http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chTMOuuUZi4(I can't find his "At Last I'm Ready for Christmas")JoCo!Chiron Beta Primehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3DyxaCYlfgChristmas is Interestinghttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flET2criAXkWeird AlChristmas at Ground Zerohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t039p6xqutUThe Night Santa Went Crazyhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSs3FyeThM0Dar WilliamsThe Christians and the Pagans (inherently religious, but in a very different way, so I like it)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_KiHRHwaAs

  11. 11

    I missed "Song for a Winter's Night" (either the Gordon Lightfoot version or the Sarah McLachlan version)

  12. 12
    Brian Westley

    Stan Freberg's "Christmas Dragnet", while not a song, is pretty funny considering the whole "belief in Santa" angle:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1vJ4sXetw4

  13. 13
    Christopher Petroni

    I'm partial to "Fairytale of New York." The classic version by The Pogues is nice, and No Use For a Name's cover is refreshingly angry.Lots of new stuff for me to check out in this thread; I love you people!

  14. 14

    Ah, Christmas music. Yes, the cheesy stuff gets repetitive after a while, and the overly goddy stuff is something I've never liked much. But hands-down, and also defying the rules that it specifically has to be "for atheists", this is the best Christmas song ever written:"Fairytale in New York" by the Pogues:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrAwK9juhhYMmmmmm…..

  15. 15

    Aargh, get out of my head, Christopher Petroni!

  16. 16

    Gotta go "Star to Follow" by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_qv60O7oAoYes it's God-laced…but oh so catchy.

  17. 17

    Christmas in Paradise by Mary Cauthier….real tear-jerker…great story.

  18. 18

    Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutchen

  19. 19

    The TV "special" has ruined "Grandma got run over by a reindeer" for me.I would add "Hazy Shade of Winter" to my list, it always gives me flashes of Christmas time. By the way, I prefer the Bangle's version, I find them much easier on the eyes than Simon and Garfunkel.Thanks all for the great posts.

  20. 20

    Ever since we got one of those stupid dancing Santas, I can't listen to "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" without wanting to strangle someone with barbed wire. I hate that song more than words can describe.Because my taste in music rarely overlaps with the genres in which Christmas songs can be found, I can't say I really enjoy them very much at all.

  21. 21
    Curt Cameron

    * Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt (was on Greta's list)* Christians and Pagans – Dar Williams (mentioned upthread)* The current country group Lady Antebellum has a very nice version of Baby It's Cold Outside* George Winston has a nice instrumental piano version of The Holly and The Ivy that he did a bunch of years ago.* Vince Guaraldi's version of The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasting…) on the Charlie Brown soundtrack. Very nice piano improv.* Tim Minchin's White Wine in the Sun.And what, no one has recommended Christmas Time by the Chipmunks???

  22. 22
    Christopher Petroni

    "Aargh, get out of my head, Christopher Petroni!"I'm everywhere!But seriously, that was bizarre. What are the chances? Quite low, I would think. The sort of thing that doesn't just happen. Not on its own. Not without… a helping hand.Gives you a new idea of the true meaning of Christmas, doesn't it?

  23. 23

    Diana Krall does "Christmastime is Here" and melts me every time.

  24. 24

    "The 12 Pains of Christmas" is first on my Christmas playlist. Once it has played, the season can start.Then "I Believe in Father Christmas" by Emerson, Lake and Palmer.Then "Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy" by Bing Crosby and David Bowie.Then "A Wonderful Christmastime" by Paul McCartney.Then "Gabriel's Message" by Sting.Then "The Night Santa Went Crazy" by Weird Al.I have a number of the ones already mentioned on the playlist as well (Waitresses and the Kinks RULE), so I didn't mention them. But these are my favorites.

  25. 25
    David McNerney

    I'm with the "Fairy Tale of New York" crowd.The spoken version was on the radio this morning as I was getting up – it really is powerful stuff.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKXRpBxfiug

  26. 26

    I 'grew up' in Japan in the 1990's, so two of my favorites are 'White Love' by Speed and 'Winter Song' by Dreams Come True. They're more winter-y love songs, but that's as Christmas as I really care to get.But, For songs from the U.S., I'm partial to 'Christmas in Hollis' by Run-DMC.

  27. 27

    * Stop the Cavalry by Jona Lewie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hVEdE0O5tA&feature=relatedAnd, obviously, Tim Minchin's White Wine in the Sun.Those are the two that really stand out to me, other ones I'd add wouldn't be as loved.

  28. 28

    I'm another who thinks "Fairytale of New York" is the best Christmas song of all time. The Pogues were awesome. Thanks to the posters above who linked to different versions – I had never heard the "No Use for a Name" version before – a great cover!

  29. 29
    Andy McBride

    Christmas in Prison – John Prine

  30. 30
    Matt D.

    Doh…how could I forget Prine! :)

  31. 31
    Russell Martin

    I've got a blog going this year for what I term are "xmas songs that don't suck", I hope you won't begrudge me from plugging it here as it seems relevant and some of the songs mentioned here that people like are on it, and there are a few that hopefully you haven't heard of:http://edgeofchristmas.blogspot.com/

  32. 32
    Jennifer Juniper

    Oh man, I love most of those songs. And I TOTALLY put "Baby It's Cold Outside" in my Christmas playlist, I'm with you. I LOVE that song. Christmas Wrapping is high on my list too.I'd add The Pogues' "Fairytale of New York." So good.I am daily being teased at work for being an atheist who LOVES Christmas. :-P

  33. 33
    Jennifer Juniper

    How is "Baby It's Cold Outside" about date rape???

  34. 34
    Jennifer Juniper

    After some research I see this "date rape song" thing has been discussed a lot on the internet. I still don't buy it. All of her "nos" sound like she's more worried about what others will think, not that she actually WANTS to leave. I'll admit its a little iffy, but I just don't see it as date rape. Also, it's not like we hear what happens in the END.Ah well. I still love it.

  35. 35

    I always get a kick out of the fact that the unapologetically atheist band XTC, known for "Dear God," also recorded the jolly "Thanks for Christmas" under the pseudonym The Three Wise Men. They also had a b-side, "Always Winter Never Christmas", and frontman Andy Partridge released the ridiculous "Countdown to Christmas Party Time".

  36. 36
    Dave from canada

    @ JuniperIn the original version it is VERY clear that the lady fully intends to get biblical with the guy, she's just doing what all 'good' women had to do at the time; pretend not to be in any way sexual so she doesn't come off as a slut.

  37. 37

    Fear "Fuck Christmas"

  38. 38

    'Fairytale of New York' gets my thumbs up as well. I also heartily second the idea that every playlist should have some Deano on it; Deano is the man. Boney M should be somewhere on here.

  39. 39

    Merry Christmas, Everybody by Slade

  40. 40
    Curt Cameron

    I'm with Matt, disappointed in myself that I forgot Christmas in Prison by John Prine. Off the top of my head, the second verse:The searchlight in the big yardSwings 'round with the gunAnd spotlights the snowflakesLike the dust in the sun…

  41. 41

    I've always been partial to Carol Of The Bells.

  42. 42

    I I just attended a concert with a superb performance of "Carol of the Bells."It was the opening song of the 2 and a half hour holiday concert at the local high school. All the lights went out, then there was singing from an unseen source. You slowly became aware of a glow behind you, and upon turning you could see a line of handheld candles coming down either side of the auditorium.Step, pause, step, pause, without missing a single beat, as each singer walked past in the dark, you could pick their one part out while still hearing the others as they all slowly joined together on the stage.An excellent beginning to a very entertaining night.

  43. 43

    Count me as an atheist who actually loves most of the religious christmas songs. I feel like I can enjoy the myth without believing it is true.

  44. 44

    Dude! Wings! The moon is rightThe spirits upWe're here tonightAnd that's enoughSimply having a wonderful christmastimeSimply having a wonderful christmastimeThe party's onThe feelin's hereThat only comesThis time of yearSimply having a wonderful christmastimeSimply having a wonderful christmastimeThe choir of children sing their songDing dong, ding dongDing dong, ding OhhhhOhhhhhhhSimply having a wonderful christmastimeSimply having a wonderful christmastimeThe word is outAbout the townTo lift a glassAhhh don't look downSimply having a wonderful christmastimeSimply having a wonderful christmastimeThe choir of children sing their songThey practiced all year longDing dong, ding dongThe party's onThe spirits upWe're here tonightAnd that's enoughSimply having a wonderful christmastimeSimply having a wonderful christmastimeThe moon is rightThe spirits upWe're here tonightAnd that's enoughSimply having a wonderful christmastimeSimply having a wonderful christmastimeOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHChristmastimehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9BZDpni56Y

  45. 45

    John Denver – Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk this Christmas) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzvQr8fidLo&feature=related

  46. 46

    I've always loved this Monty Python performance:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IivaDS3eWrE&feature=fvw

  47. 47

    God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.

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