07 December 2011

Mixtape Madness #10: A Very Merry Mixtape Madness

According to the novel High Fidelity the making of a good mix tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. Furthermore, a good mix is never finished. You never know when you will come across a song that changes the dynamic of the mix you just completed. There is a litany of intricacies to crafting the ideal mix no matter what the mix’s intended purpose should be. This feature is merely a guide on the cosmic highway of mix making, and while experienced, the writer does not claim to be an expert.
A Very Merry Mixtape Madness
All around the country, local soft rock and easy listening radio stations have switched their format to 24/7 Christmas music. Unfortunately, these playlists that pass for radio stations these days play a steady stream of Christmas crap, and there is no good reason for it. There is a ton of great Christmas tunes out there. My iTunes library alone contains seven hours of holiday cheer. While I'm not ready to present all seven glorious hours, I will give you a small sample of the type of yuletide tunes the What rocks out to. 

Hey, check it out! A sweet graphic to put you in the Christmas spirit. With this mix, I attempted to cram as much variety as possible to fit a standard CD or blank cassette tape. Even so, all of my Christmas mixes start the same way: instrumental gold from the Muppets and then Doc Severinsen and the Tonight Show Orchestra. After that, I stuck with the big band feel with Harry Connick, Jr. and my favorite Old Blue Eyes duet, "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" with Cyndi Lauper.

Changing gears, we move to a cool mash-up of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "We Three Kings" by a bunch of kooky Canadians and then a trip to the Ghetto with the Godfather of Soul. From there, it's my favorite Christmas song, "Fairytale of New York" by Irish legends Kirsty MacColl and the Pogues. If foul language dampens your Christmas spirit, you may opt to skip this one.

I find that Christmas is a sneaky way to get people to listen to country music, and it works. Randy Travis' "Jingle Bell Rock" is grand. While Eartha Kitt's version sets the standard for "Santa Baby," Everclear's cover is quite snazzy as well. And although I opt for a more secular Christmas, "Mary's Boy Child" is onf of two great tellings of the Christmas story on this mix. Linus can eat his heart out. 

For the Billy Squier tune, I highly recommend checking out the video with the "MTV chorus." Classic early 1980's stuff there. I toyed with the idea of using Joe's version of "This Christmas," but went with the original instead. On a recommendation from my cousin, I've added "Just Like Christmas" to this year's mix, and it is quite great. Luther Vandross, the Ramones, and Vanessa Williams then bridge the gap to another version of the Christmas story, as told by Dave Matthews. Even if you're not a Dave fan, you should give this one a listen.

When most people think of Run DMC and Christmas, they immediately go for "Christmas in Hollis." But at my house, it was always "Christmas Is," a great song on its own, but even better for the wish list at the end. For "Merry Christmas Baby," I suggest checking out the version recorded on the Conan O'Brien show with Conan joining members of the E Street Band and the Max Weinberg 7 for a holiday jam. 

No Christmas album is complete without Bing Crosby. When you tire of his duet with David Bowie and "White Christmas," put "Do You Hear What I Hear" in your rotation, it's a great showcase for his voice. Finally, we wrap things up with another instrumental from Doc Severinsen. Enjoy the little zydeco breakdown toward the end, and have a very Merry Christmas!

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