100 Christmas Classics Download Torrent

Posted : admin On 12/26/2021

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Holiday music gets a bad rap, understandably. The way it saturates radio and commercial spaces, seemingly starting earlier each fall, it can feel inescapable—and a lot of it can be trite. So it’s easy to feel disenchanted. But when it came time to put together a list of our holiday favorites, we were surprised that even some of our most dedicated freaks of outré sound still had a warm place in their hearts for this music. So we polled our contributors for the best and most interesting holiday tracks, and here are the results.

But first, here to share her earliest holiday memories is a legend of Christmas music...

SANTA ON MY MIND
By Ronnie Spector

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There are two passions that have remained with me since I was a little girl growing up in Spanish Harlem: performing, specifically singing rock’n’roll onstage, and Christmas. I don’t recall which came first.

I guess entertaining my family did. My uncle would put a lightbulb in an old Maxwell House coffee tin; that would be my spotlight and I would jump up on the table and sing. I was 5 years old.

Around that time, I remember reading a book about Christmas in our apartment. On the page was Santa with his snow-white beard, in his red suit with fluffy white trim, sitting on his sleigh with a giant sack of toys. Wow! I flipped a few more pages, and I saw Santa’s black boots coming down the fireplace. Oh no—I didn’t understand this. How would I get my toys if we didn’t have a chimney, let alone a fireplace? I jumped up, ran out of the room, calling, “Daddy, Daddy!” My dad answered: “Yes, Butchie?” I asked frantically, “How is Santa going to get here with my toys, Daddy? We don’t have a fireplace.” Daddy looked at me and said, “Don’t worry, Butchie, when Santa is in New York City, he uses the fire escape.” Oh boy, what a relief! I ran into the kitchen, got out the milk and cookies, put them out on the fire escape, and went to bed dreaming of Santa. And I have been dreaming ever since.

Ronnie, left, with her sister (and future fellow Ronette) Estelle on tricycle

Every September, I started getting the Christmas itch. I couldn’t wait to go with my dad over to Broadway to pick out our tree, and then I made my mom take me down to Macy’s so I could sit on Santa’s lap. There was a long line of people—I couldn’t even see Santa. My mom was a waitress, and on her feet all day, but she didn’t want to disappoint me. When I finally got my chance, wearing my red dress, I’d jump onto Santa’s lap and start telling him about the doll I wanted for Christmas. Then he told me I would get it if I was a good girl—but instead, once, I got a Kewpie doll. Oy!

Back in the late ’40s, the Christmas music on the radio was all standards, such as Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. My parents liked that, but not me. I think the first Christmas record I liked was “White Christmas” by the Drifters. It tells you both things you need to make a great Christmas record: a good singer and a great arrangement. You hear that deep voice of Bill Pinkney of the Drifters in the beginning, and then, all of a sudden, that joyful and amazing voice of Clyde McPhatter coming in: “I-yay-yay I’m dreaming…”

The Ronettes' cover of Elegant Teen magazine, 1966

I was lucky enough to record about nine or 10 Christmas records, and six of them get played on the radio still. But it’s the ones I recorded with my group the Ronettes in 1963 that will probably outlive me, and it’s because of the incredible arrangements of Jack Nitzsche. Just listen to “Sleigh Ride”—that says it all.

Just like when I was a kid, I still wait for Christmas each year—for the brightly colored lights, Frosty the Snowman, and Santa. And the best Christmas gift for me is when I am driving at home in Connecticut to get milk and cookies for Santa, I turn on the radio and hear my version of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”…and I think to myself, Santa has been pretty good to me all these years.

Ronnie Spector is a singer-songwriter, author, and the lead vocalist of the Ronettes.

  • Warner Bros., 2007
  • The Flaming Lips / Imagene Peise

“Silver Bells”

The Flaming Lips may employroadies dressed like Santa Claus and have a high-concept, low-budget sci-fi film called Christmas on Mars, but they only have one holiday album—sort of. Released initially under the name Imagene Peise, Atlas Eets Christmas treats Silver Bellsand other familiar tracks like the mid-century pop standards they are. Centered around the piano of Steven Drozd and blurred together by a fake vinyl crackle, other accoutrements like mellotron, sitar, and bells leak in subtly, as if barely there at all.

According tothe liner notes, “Peise” released his collection of Iraqi piano jazz before committing suicide in 1978; the Lips’ weirdness, however, remains eternal. Like a prankster trying to keep a straight face, or strange hallucinations flickering at the periphery of one’s vision, Atlas Eets Christmas sounds beamed in from the universe next door, where the holiday traditions are all the same but the color scheme is different. –Jesse Jarnow

Listen:The Flaming Lips/Imagene Peise: “Silver Bells”

  • Self-released, 2010
  • Kanye West

“Christmas in Harlem” [ft. Cam’ron, Jim Jones, Vado, Cyhi da Prynce, Pusha T, Musiq Soulchild, Teyana Taylor and Big Sean]

This is arguably the best “holidays come to the ’hood” song of all time (sorry, “Christmas in Hollis”). The soulful swag of Teyana Taylor’s vocals glazing Kanye West’s Marvin Gaye-sampling production might lead you to believe this 2010 posse carol exists outside of time (and outside of the internet—the original extended cut is nowhere to be found online, replaced with Kanye’s retail non-Dipset-and-friends edit), that it’s been preserved inside a snowglobe where Cam’ron braves the swirling flakes in a white fur cape and ushanka as he strolls regally past a miniature Apollo Theatre. Jim Jones peers from a shop window in his Hennessy-stained Santa suit, which hangs open to reveal his Dipset chain. Despite Jones’ red-rimmed eyes, he is a reassuring presence, making sure all the kids have toys, growling, “Let’s make a toast ’cause Christ is born/We gon’ party ’otil the lights come on.” Whatever your spiritual outlook or geographic location, just shake this little ball of silvery bling any time you need to be reminded: It’s a wonderful night to be alive, baby. –Edwin “STATS” Houghton

  • Atlantic, 1968
  • Clarence Carter

“Back Door Santa”

Clarence Carter worked his way up the ranks at the legendary Muscle Shoals soul studio into Atlantic Records’ roster; there, his pleading love songs (“Slip Away,” “Too Weak to Fight”) cracked through the R&B charts and into pop crossover fame. His entry for Atlantic’s Soul Christmas collection is more Penthouse letter than romance novel, though. It’s a hectic, slyly salacious effort: Alongside a blaring horn intro (that would later be sampled on Run-DMC’s “Christmas In Hollis”), Carter packs military drum rolls, casual down-home asides (“Lookit here!”), classic blues progressions, and enough raunchy imagery to stuff a stocking. (He flits between embracing the “back door,” giving ladies his “presents,” and needling St. Nick for only coming once a year.) If you’re sick of Christmas commercialism, Carter—who still tours today at 80 years old—can be doubly appreciated for his randy embrace of the season. –Jason Gross

Listen:Clarence Carter: “Back Door Santa”

  • Asthmatic Kitty, 2012
  • Sufjan Stevens

“Christmas in the Room”

Since 2001, Sufjan Stevens has recorded and released more than 100 Christmas songs. But the Christian artist isn’t just reeling off reams of standards to satiate the faithful, or cashing in with big band renditions like some kind of PerryComoin a tight thrift-store tee. Instead, he often spikes his holiday tunes—both originals and covers—with the season’s signature blend of conflicted feelings. These odes bring out the comforting smell of pine needles along with the dampness of slushy socks, the merry warmth of generosity as well as the nagging nostalgia of those childhood revelries of yore.

“Christmas in the Room,” Stevens’ best Yuletide original, is about a couple trying to conjure the holiday spirit without all of the typical trappings: “No parties planned, no place to go/It’s just the two of us alone.” The bare instrumentation matches the mood, with Stevens’ acoustic guitar soundtracking a Christmas without mistletoe, malls, silver bells, Santa, or even family. The idea seems so simple and yet so stark: The holiday is what you make of it, and the spirit can be found in another person, within four walls. –Ryan Dombal

Listen:Sufjan Stevens: “Christmas in the Room”

  • Jaguar, 1972
  • Toots & the Maytals

“Happy Christmas”

Christmas isbashment time in Jamaica, and every holiday season sees a wave of new tunes and choreography unveiled at the massive dances held in celebration. The result is a deep catalog of island holiday classics spanning decades and styles, ranging from reggae-fied versions of the standards to original badman carols.

Toots & the Maytals’ “Happy Christmas” stands head, shoulders, and lung-power above the rest. (It’s on the Dynamic Sounds compilation Christmas in the Tropics—worth tracking down forthe cover alone.) The country chapel brand of gospel that powers Toots lends itself perfectly to the Christmas theme; his booming Pentecostalist fervor, underpinned by church bells and skanking guitar, is guaranteed to transform the stiffest office holiday party into a hand-clapping revival meeting. –Edwin “STATS” Houghton

Listen:Toots & the Maytals: “Happy Christmas”

  • Decca, 1955
  • Louis Armstrong

“Christmas in New Orleans”

Louis Armstrong recorded several holiday numbers—this one, written by Richard Sherman and Joseph Van Winkle, has the distinction of containing some of Satchmo’s ecstatic, bluesy swagger. (Not always a guarantee, in the field of theme and novelty recordings.) Officially a collaboration between the jazz virtuoso and Benny Carter’s orchestra, this performance ismostly led by Armstrong’s “All Stars” ensemble; that working band hadjust producedtwo buoyant LPs for Columbia, and the support they offer Armstrong here keeps the track from becoming too cutesy. Pianist Billy Kyle plays the blues behind Armstrong’s gravelly verses, and drummer Barrett Deems provides subtle but authoritative swing during the bandleader’s trumpet solo. Thirty years after Armstrong changed jazz forever with hisfirst singles, his technique here proves that he was still a gift not only to the sound of New Orleans but to the rest of the world—and to the holidays, to boot. –Seth Colter Walls

Listen:Louis Armstrong: “Christmas in New Orleans”

  • Columbia, 2001
  • Destiny’s Child

“Carol of the Bells a.k.a. Opera of the Bells”

In 2001, Destiny’s Child were the biggest girl-group in pop, presiding with three-part harmonies, deconstructed R&B, and sharp celebrations of autonomy and self-love. That spring, the trio released their third studio album, Survivor—their first with the classic lineup of Beyoncé Knowles, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams, and an adventurous blend of hip-hop, soul, blues, and gospel.

During a year that took the trio around the world, they also found time to record 8 Days of Christmas, a 12-track album that mixes holiday standards with originals. It’s similarly wide-ranging, full of joy and tension, rich harmonies, and percussive vocal lines. The singers share lead duties, and it’s also one of the first times the world heard from Beyonce’s 15-year-old sister, Solange, in a smooth take on “Little Drummer Boy.” Its highlight is the group’s epic a cappella rendering of the ominous Christmas classic “Carol of the Bells,” here retitled “Carol of the Bells a.k.a. Opera of the Bells.” In its grand sweep, Destiny’s Child belt out lush chords and bustling staccato melodies, weaving in and out of each other with weight and light. It’s 8 Days of Christmas’ closing track, but an apt entry point into an essential collection. –Liz Pelly

Listen:Destiny’s Child: “Carol of the Bells a.k.a. Opera of the Bells”

  • RCA, 1982
  • Dolly Parton

“Hard Candy Christmas”

Dolly Parton has recorded enough holiday material to keep an enthusiast occupied until Valentine’s Day, but her cover of “Hard Candy Christmas,” written by Carol Hall for the 1978 musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, feels particularly potent. It’s not an overt holiday song, but ever since Parton recorded the track for its film adaptation, it has become a country staple in December, and its meditation on keeping a stiff upper lip is worth internalizing as 2016 comes to a long-awaited end.

What starts as an acoustic dirge about uncertainty becomes a twangy anthem for accepting and adapting to changed circumstances: “I'll be fine and dandy/Lord it's like a hard candy Christmas/I'm barely getting through tomorrow/But still I won't let/Sorrow bring me way down,” she muses. While some of the best holiday tracks focus on the sneaky sadness of forced holiday cheer, Parton’s tremulous declaration adds some much-needed optimism to what can be a wholly depressive season. Plus, frankly, there just aren’t enough Christmas songs about prostitutes. –Cady Drell

Listen:Dolly Parton: “Hard Candy Christmas”

  • Decca, 1966
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  • Loretta Lynn

100 Classic Christmas Songs

“To Heck With Ole Santa Claus”

Classic christmas songs

Christmas Classics Music

The always prolific Loretta Lynn released three albums in 1966—including her chart-topping, You Ain’t Woman Enough that September. The following month, she released Country Christmas, which was filled mostly with staples like “Away in a Manger” and “White Christmas.” But the enduring song from the release is one of a handful of original compositions written by Lynn, “To Heck With Ole Santa Claus.”

Classic Christmas Songs

Twangy and brimming with country sass, “To Heck With Ole Santa Claus” is explicitly about wishing ill will on the chimney-hopper who holds out on bringing her presents. More subtly, it’s a song about seasonal disappointments, holiday childishness, and not getting the thing you hoped for most on Christmas Day. As Lynn sings, “When he goes dashin’ through the snow, I hope he falls,” it’s almost pouty. She is snotty and petulant, with snappy quips that seek bodily harm as cosmic justice for being duped, but she’s redeemed by her bittersweet cheekiness. –Sheldon Pearce

Listen:Loretta Lynn: “To Heck With Ole Santa Claus”

  • Tamla, 1967

Christmas Classic Cartoons

  • Stevie Wonder

“What Christmas Means to Me”

“What Christmas Means to Me” is Wonder’s signature Christmas statement; in it, he seeks to define nothing less than Christmas spirit itself. It was co-written by Anna Gordy Gaye—elder sister of Motown founder Berry Gordy, and inspiration for her ex-husband Marvin Gaye’s Here, My Dear—as well as George Gordy and Allen Story. The song was released on Wonder’s only Christmas album, Someday at Christmas, alongside such other Yuletide staples as “The Little Drummer Boy” and “Silver Bells.”

Wonder sets a placid scene in “What Christmas Means to Me”: carolers trudging door-to-door through the snow, the fluorescent glow of ornaments strung together, filling the tree with “angel hair.” These things remind most of us of Christmas—the sights, sounds, and smells surrounding any nativity scene, the warmth emanating from hearth and home. But those are set dressings for more intangible things Wonder craves, in which his vocals truly soar: “Even though I love ya madly/ It seems I love you more/ And little cards you give me/ Will touch my heart for sure.” In his joy, he lands on the feelings we all revel in from the holidays: being eager, being giddy, being loved. –Sheldon Pearce

Listen: Stevie Wonder: “What Christmas Means to Me”