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Twelve Covers in the Holiday Spirit
As soon as Thanksgiving ends, select radio stations begin to play Christmas music non-stop. Though the incessant mainstream holiday music might drive you into becoming a Grinch (for example, “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer”), Relix dug deep and found some bright, original holiday covers by our favorite bands. In addition to the live covers, many bands have also released holiday-themed albums (check out Béla Fleck and the Flecktones’ Jingle All The Way, Brushfire Records’ This Warm December and moe.’s Seasons Greetings ). So grab yourself some eggnog and get ready for the holidays with these 12 tracks.
Otis Redding “White Christmas” – “White Christmas” was made famous by Bing Crosby (having sold more than 50 million copies worldwide) and was penned by Irving Berlin in 1940, later to be turned into a musical film in 1954.
My Morning Jacket “O Holy Night” – My Morning Jacket played a mini holiday set for their local radio station in Louisville, Kent., in 2001, including songs like “Christmas Time Is Here Again” and “Santa Claus is Back in Town.” “O Holy Night,” composed by Adolphe Adam in 1947, is not quite an uplifting holiday song, especially this somewhat dark and haunting version by the indie-rockers.
Grateful Dead “Run Rudolph Run” – “Run Rudolph Run” was written by Johnny Marks and Marvin Brodie, and recorded and made famous by Chuck Berry in 1958. Performed in 1971 at Madison Square Garden, this Grateful Dead version has Pigpen singing the lead.
Matisyahu “Miracle” – This is an original holiday song written by Matisyahu in an attempt to give “the Jewish kids something to be proud of” and to “get across some of the depth and spirituality inherent in the holiday in a fun, celebratory song,” he said. The poppy, bubbly “Miracle” is definitely not your typical holiday song.
Béla Fleck and the Flecktones “Linus and Lucy” – “Linus and Lucy,” of the popular cartoon and television show Peanuts, is a popular jazz tune written by Vince Guaraldi, appearing on his 1964 album Jazz Impressions of a Boy Named Charlie Brown. The song was introduced on the television special, A Charlie Brown Christmas and also appears on The Flecktones’ holiday album, Jingle All The Way.
Amy Winehouse “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” – Amy Winehouse’s R&B version of the American Christmas tune is a seductive take on the Tommie Connor-written song. The song was originally recorded by 13-year-old Jimmy Boyd in 1952 for Saks Fifth Avenue.
moe. “Together at Christmas” – Though this is actually an original holiday song written by moe.’s Rob Derhak, for the band’s 2002 Seasons Greetings album, it is earnest and sweet, without the cheesiness of many traditional tunes.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band “Merry Christmas Baby” – Performing on Conan in 2002, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band covered the R & B Christmas standard written by Lou Baxter and Johnny Moore and originally recorded in 1947.
Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger “Happy Christmas” – As a part of a USTORM benefit concert (founded by Brendan Bayliss in 2006 to raise money for music and art educational programs), several members of Umphrey’s McGee performed a stripped-down version of the John Lennon and Yoko Ono tune “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)” with the Chicago Children’s Choir.
Amos Lee “Christmas in Prison” – Originally on John Prine’s third album, 1973’s Sweet Revenge, “Christmas in Prison” isn’t your traditional holiday song. Though, in all likelihood, you’ll never hear this on the radio, Amos Lee’s version of Prine’s sad and sweet song makes you think – like most other Christmas songs – that the only place you want to be during the holiday is home.
Yo La Tengo “Hanukkah Time” – For the band’s eight night Hanukkah residency at New Jersey’s Maxwell’s in 2011, Yo La Tengo welcomed surprise openers, like Jeff Tweedy and The National, and played a slew of covers as a tribute to the Jewish holiday, like the Beatles’ “Eight Days A Week” and Al Johnson’s “Carnival Time,” which the band sung as “Hanukkah Time.” You can download it here.