By Ken Salyer, Principal

The winter holiday season is upon us and it’s the only time of the year when I want to hear holiday music. December 1-24 only, please. During that short time frame, I do actually enjoy listening to the old classics, especially during that last week before Christmas. Surprisingly, there are very few holiday songs played each year that are new, but a few do trickle out now and then. The holiday songs I’ve selected here are all original songs written or co-written by the artists performing them, and they were all written within the last ten years.

Music Playlist at

1.  “Christmastime” by Aimee Mann and Michael Penn – Singer-songwriter Aimee Mann released a solid album of Christmas and holiday songs in 2006 titled One More Drifter in the Snow. This particular song was written by her husband Michael Penn, who himself is also a talented singer-songwriter. On Aimee’s album, she sings this song solo, but on the YouTube version presented here, both Aimee and Michael perform the song.

2.  “A Great Big Sled” by The Killers – Each year for the past five years, The Killers have released a holiday single supporting the (RED) charity.  Two of those singles appear in this playlist collection. “A Great Big Sled” is a song about reliving the joys of the season, and I like the opening line, “This snowman is shaping up to be an 8, but not out of 10.” I myself, more than once, have settled on a figure eight-shaped snowman instead of the traditional three-baller.

3.  “Washington Square” by Chris Isaak – In 2004, Chris Isaak released a holiday collection of songs brilliantly titled Christmas. He covers the old classics quite well in his usual Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison style, but he also included four original sings that he penned. Three of those songs are included in this post.  This first one, “Washington Square,” is in the mold of Blue Christmas about missing your loved one who is so far away during Christmas.

4.  “Christmas of Love” by Little Isidore & the Inquisitors – The soundtrack to the Jim Carrey movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas contains a great collection of new and old songs. Absolutely one of my favorite Christmas songs ever is this one by a group I’ve never heard of before or since. The sound is kind of doo-wop sung in a silly falsetto with a simple piano and horn arrangement. “We’ll be hugging, we’ll be kissing like two turtledoves–Christmas of love.”

5.  “Christmas On TV” by Chris Isaak – During the holiday season, one tradition over the years has been watching holiday classics on TV. This bittersweet song tells about watching Jimmy Stewart on TV while the singer laments about missing his ex:  “But you’re really not that far, in our old house with his new car – So merry Christmas from one million miles away.”

6.  “Boots” by The Killers – In this song the singer talks about how he’s messed up in the past but then at the holidays he gets a lift from seeing his family and remembering their traditions including another reference to watching “It’s A Wonderful Life” and snowball fights.  My favorite line: “A smile below each nose and above each chin, I stomp my boots before I go back in.”

7.  “Calling On Mary” by Aimee Mann – Another great original song by Aimee that includes the lyric One More Drifter in the Snow, and also the name of the album this song comes from.

8.  “Green Christmas” by Barenaked Ladies – This song, that appears on BNL’s record Barenaked for Holidays and on How the Grinch Stole Christmas is full of references to all of the usual trappings of the holiday season that leaves the singer green with envy “Cause of everything I miss – All this mistletoe, no kiss.”

9.  “Winter Song” by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson – Frequently, holiday season songs are about winter and snow rather than about Christmas or Hanukkah and this song definitely fits into that winter song category (clearly the song title gives this away, right?) Written by Sarah and Ingrid, this sad song asks the musical question “is love alive” beneath the winter snow.

10.  “All That I Want” by the Weepies – The Weepies are a folk duo of married couple Deb Talan and Steve Tannen and this song (another sad one) is from their 2003 album Happiness.

11.  “In the Morning” by Jack Johnson – Last month a new collection of holiday songs from various artists was released from the Hawaiian based record company Brushfire Records owned by Jack Johnson.  It’s a strong compilation and this song of Jack’s is barely a Christmas song, but I like it so here it is.  Jack sings about parents and the excitement of kids on Christmas morning: “These are the gifts we keep and this is the morning that we breathe and then we see these moments are the only gifts we need.”

12.  “Cold December Night” by Michael Bublé – Michael Bublé’s brand new album (with the once again ingeniously named Christmas), has just one sole original song, which is actually co-written by Michael himself, who is not known as a writer. The song is almost annoyingly catchy, but sometimes it’s hard to hate catchiness.

13.  “Hey Santa!” by Chris Isaak – Another fun original song from Chris and his tight backing band.

14.  “Christmas Lights” by Coldplay – Released as a single in December of 2010, Chris Martin and the gang sing about broken relationships, how it doesn’t feel like Christmas at all, and how those Christmas lights keep shining on and wishing us listeners that all our troubles may soon be gone.