Ten Great Christmas Albums To Help You Shake the Police State Blues
by John W. Whitehead
by John W. Whitehead: The
Fight Against the Total Surveillance State in Our Schools
an aspirin for the soul or cold-turkey celebration of the
birth and life of Christ? It has to be a measured bit of both,
doesn't it?" Ian Anderson, The
Jethro Tull Christmas Album
What a year
it's been. We've had kids getting micro-chipped in the public
schools. Congress, the courts and the White House working in
cahoots to erode our privacy
rights. The Transportation Security Administration fumbling
its way through national
Sandy ravaging the Eastern shore. The police
state merging with the surveillance state to keep us tagged,
tracked and under control. The military
industrial complex lobbying to keep the nation at war and defense
contractors in the money. Individuals
getting fined and arrested for violating any number of vague and
overreaching laws. Homes getting raided and innocent Americans killed
by rampaging SWAT
teams armed to the hilt.
months of being mired in gloom and doom, we now find ourselves just
a few weeks away from Christmas, struggling to latch onto that spirit
of joy, excitement, innocence, magic and hope we had as children.
Even if one is successful in momentarily blocking out the political
gloom and doom, it still takes a monumental effort to get past the
Grinches and Scrooges
who can you make you feel like yours is anything but a wonderful
life. And then there's Christmas itself, which has become embattled
in recent years, co-opted by rampant commercialism,
straight-jacketed by political
correctness, and denuded of so much of its loveliness, holiness
of this humbuggery, however, there are still a few
steps you can take to reclaim the magic of Christmas and enjoy
the season. For a start, do something nice for someone else
whether it's a family member, a neighbor or a stranger on the street.
Turn off the news and turn on a Christmas movie,
one of the oldies but goodies something full of good will,
sweetness and heart. And then, to top it all off, add some Christmas
tunes to the mix, whatever fits the bill for you be it traditional
carols, rollicking oldies, or some rocking new tunes. What I love
about Christmas music is how the sacred and irreverent meld into
an atmosphere of joy and wonder.
them over dinner, in the car, on your iPod. Hum them under your
breath as you do your shopping. Belt them out in the shower or while
gathered together in a group setting. Before you know it, you'll
start feeling like it's Christmastime again.
Out of the
hundreds of Christmas albums I've listened to over the years, the
following are ten of my favorites, covering a broad range of musical
styles, moods and tastes, but each in its own way perfectly capturing
the essence of Christmas.
Christmas (EMI, 1989): 18 great songs, ranging from John
Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" to Bing Crosby's "White
Christmas." The real treats on this album are Greg Lake's "I
Believe in Father Christmas," Kate Bush's "December Will
Be Magic Again" and Aled Jones' "Walking in the Air."
Guitar (Rounder, 1986): 28 beautifully done traditional
Christmas songs by master guitarist John Fahey. Hearing Fahey's
guitar strings plucking out "Joy to the World," "Good
King Wenceslas," "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas," among
others, is a sublime experience.
Is A Special Day (The Right Stuff, 1993): 12 fine songs
by Fats Domino, the great Fifties rocker, ranging from "Amazing
Grace" to "Jingle Bells." The title song, written
by Domino himself, is a real treat. No one has ever played the piano
keys like Fats.
Island (August/Private Music, 1989): "Frosty the Snowman"
will never sound the same after you hear Leon Redbone and Dr. John
do their duet. Neither will "Christmas Island" or "Toyland"
on this collection of 11 traditional and rather offbeat songs.
Holiday Celebration (Gold Castle, 1988): The classic folk
trio Peter, Paul & Mary, backed by the New York Choral Society,
sing traditional and nontraditional holiday fare on 12 beautifully
orchestrated songs. Included are "I Wonder as I Wander,"
"Children Go Where I Send Thee," and "The Cherry
Tree Carol." Also thrown in is Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in
Christmas Album (Columbia, 1992): Neil Diamond sings 14
songs, ranging from "Silent Night" to "Jingle Bell
Rock" to "The Christmas Song" to "Come, O Come
Emmanuel." Diamond also gives us a great rendition of Lennon's
"Happy Xmas (War Is Over)." A delightful album.
Charlie Brown Christmas (Fantasy, 1988): 12 traditional
Christmas songs by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. The pianist extraordinaire
and his trio perform "O Tannenbaum," "The Christmas
Song" and "Greensleeves." Also included is the Charlie
Brown Christmas theme.
Jethro Tull Christmas Album (Fuel Records, 2003): If you
like deep-rooted traditional holiday songs, you'll love this album.
The 16 songs range from "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"
to Ian Anderson originals such as "Another Christmas Song"
and "Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow." With Anderson on
flute and vocals, this album has an old world flavor that will have
you wanting mince pie and plum pudding.
Twisted Christmas (Razor Tie, 2006): Twisted Sister, the
heavy metal group, knocks the socks off a bevy of traditional and
pop Christmas songs. Dee Snider's amazing vocals brings to life
"Oh Come All Ye Faithful," "Deck the Halls,"
"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," among others
including "Heavy Metal Christmas (The Twelve Days of Christmas)."
Great fun and a great band.
for Christmas (Asthmatic Kitty, 2006): In December 2001,
independent singer/songwriter Sufjan Stevens set out to create a
Christmas gift through songs for his friends and family. It eventually
grew to a 5-CD box set, which includes Stevens' original take on
such standards as "Amazing Grace" and "We Three Kings"
and some inventive yuletide creations of his own. A lot of fun.
One more thing.
We must never forget that the Christmas holiday is named after the
Prince of Peace. So in the midst of the giving and the getting and
the making merry, let's not forget to do our part to make this world
a better place for everyone. As John Lennon sings in "Happy
Xmas (War Is Over)":
And so this
For weak and for strong,
For rich and the poor ones.
The road is so long.
And so happy Christmas
For black and for white,
For yellow and red ones.
Let's stop all the fight.
and in the words of Tiny
Tim, "God bless us everyone."
attorney and author John W. Whitehead [send
him mail] is founder and president of The
Rutherford Institute. He is the author of The
Change Manifesto (Sourcebooks).
© 2012 The Rutherford Institute
Best of John W. Whitehead