At this writing, about two weeks remain before Christmas, which means that you’ve been listening to old and new holiday music now for — what? — two weeks now? Three weeks? Or maybe … you never put the holiday music away after last year’s season?
I can’t blame you. After this whiplash-inducing year, no wonder you needed to reach for something comforting, something familiar to insulate you.
But, of course, there is classic holiday music … and then there are many, many covers of “White Christmas,” the vast majority of them undeserving of being enshrined as essential, let alone played again. (I’m looking at you, Neil Diamond.)
That’s the underlying philosophy behind my (completely fictional, as I am required to inform potential investors) Holiday Music Hall of Fame — to seek out and enshrine those performances of songs that are so definitive that it should be illegal for any other artist to record them. (In a nod to the First Amendment, I would allow performers to play these songs in concert, but artists would have to announce beforehand that the songs are in the Hall of Fame.)
Over the last six years, 13 songs have been named to the Hall of Fame. (A handful of other songs have earned honorable mention status — those songs are housed in another wing of the Hall of Fame.) Thanks to the miracle of Spotify, I have included a playlist of all those songs for your listening pleasure.
Last year’s honorees — Joni Mitchell’s “River” and the Billie Holiday recording of “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” — seemed appropriate in terms of what a bummer 2020 was. This year, let me suggest that we split the difference: Let’s enshrine one song that’s mainly fun and a second song that reflects, you know, that moment this year when we knew for sure that the coronavirus never was going away and that our democracy is in grave peril. (Generally, only two songs are honored each year, but arithmetic suggests to me that one year in the past, I must have chosen three. That could happen again, if necessary.)
The final selections, of course, are mine (although I reserve the right to engage Cory Frye in some fashion), but I welcome nominations from readers — and, this year, will prepare a second Spotify list of all the songs that have been nominated.
So go rummage through your collection and pitch me your nominations. You can submit a nomination by commenting below. Or you can send me an email at [email protected]. I’m thinking that sometime on Wednesday, Dec. 22, I’ll reserve the conference room at the Hall of Fame — the one with the huge windows that overlook Whoville far below — and make the final decisions. If this process strikes you as unfair, my response to you remains the same: Tough. Start your own Holiday Music Hall of Fame.
And if you’re taking time to nominate a favorite song, here’s another question for you to ponder: Who HASN’T yet recorded a Christmas album who should? I have some thoughts on this question, but I await your suggestions.
Finally, a Holiday Music Hall of Fame crisis alert: The new Christmas albums out this year include a travesty — someone has released a “new” Nat “King” Cole album, “A Sentimental Christmas with Nat ‘King’ Cole & Friends,” which includes virtual duets of Cole Christmas classics, including a duet with John Legend on “The Christmas Song.” If Congress had acted on the (completely fictional) Hall of Fame legislation, this sort of sacrilege would be illegal. Listen to Cole perform “The Christmas Song” (it’s included in the Hall of Fame playlist) and you’ll understand that he did just fine all on his own. And, just for fun, jump on Amazon.com and slap this new abomination with a one-star rating. Then, if you don’t already have it, buy the real thing.
Santa Claus is coming to town – The Boss (and Clarence)
Thanks, Bob. I do believe this might be the year that this song gets its due in the Hall of Fame. And, kids, when we talk about the Big Man in this song, we’re not talking about Santa — we’re talking about the great Clarence Clemons, may he rest in peace.