Craig Allen’s Christmas Favorites 2021
Jersey's "Holiday Hits" rule the weekend airwaves here at New Jersey 101.5, and on NJ1015.com.
Christmas lights are...lighting up the Jersey night sky.
You, our listeners, are lashing trees to the top of your mini-vans...and then decorating them...while "Jingle Bell Rocking...Around The Christmas Tree!"
Yes...Santa will soon be on the way. And, Bob Williams will be in the "Santa Tracking Station."
That being said...
...I figure that there's no time like now to share a few of my Ho-Ho Faves with YOU (in no particular order).
Burl Ives--Holly Jolly Christmas
Burl Ives was the voice of Sam, the snowman...the storyteller...the folk singer in the 1964 Classic Christmas Special "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer."
This is how the song appears at the end of the show...
While you enjoy this happy, upbeat holiday fave, I'm still looking for the stuffed Rudolph, Yukon Cornelius, Sam, Hermey, and "Bumble" ornaments that I picked up back in the late '90s...they're in a box (somewhere) from one of my moves... And, as Yukon Cornelius reminds us: "Bumbles Bounce!"
Andy Williams--It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
This holiday classic was recorded in 1963, as part of "The Andy Williams Christmas Album." Its been a radio staple since then and has been covered by many other recording artists over the decades.
As you can see in the video above, Andy hosted a popular TV "Variety Show" in the late 60's/early '70s. I was just reading an article in a December 1969 LIFE magazine...
...where 683 dancers turned up in Hollywood to audition for a 12-person chorus line for the show. What people will do to be a "star." Some things never change.
Thurl Ravenscroft--You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch
No, Boris Karloff, the "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" narrator did not sing this classic song. Thurl Ravenscroft, the voice of "Tony The Tiger" ("They're GRRRRREAT!") did.
I was too little to remember much about this Dr. Seuss special the first few years it aired (1966). However, my mother taped the TV audio, and played it (on a "Craig" portable "reel to reel"), as the car radio was broken. Mom played the Grinch over and over in order to keep 2 small kids occupied on a 15-hour drive to Wisconsin (Grandma's house) for family Christmas.
This "special" has been special to me for as long as I can remember (and I can quote much of it, as we gather 'round the TV).
Mariah Carey--All I Want For Christmas Is You
Every time I play this 1994 Christmas hit, I have to turn the studio speakers up to the point where my ears bleed. I can't help it.
Bing Crosby--White Christmas
There are several versions of this classic.
I've chosen this video, as this is the way the song was seen and heard for the first time, in the movie "Holiday Inn" in 1941. Bing recorded a studio version in 1942, which was #1 on the charts for 17 weeks.
The version that you hear most often on the radio today (including NJ101.5), was recorded in 1947. It returned to the pop charts for 20 Christmases after that! Christmas just isn't Christmas, without this song.
I'll be writing more about this Christmas classic, next weekend, here at nj1015.com.
The Ronettes--Sleigh Ride
"Just hear those sleigh bells jingling" thru Phil Spector's "Wall Of Sound." This Christmas standard was recorded by the Ronettes in 1963.
Composer/Conductor Leroy Anderson penned the tune during the warm summer of 1946 and recorded several orchestral versions of his own in the 1950s. My parents had a copy of his (1959) stereo album, and I played it a lot as a kid at Christmastime.
However, the Ronettes win, in this favorites list (this time).
Donny Hathaway--This Christmas
Donny Hathaway wrote and recorded this song in 1970. He is best known for the duets that he sang with Roberta Flack throughout the '70s. My buddy (the late, great) "Big Ron O'Brien" introduced me to this song back in my Philly radio days in the '90s.
I remember hearing "This Christmas" on Big Ron's "Christmas Star." Ron had a great ear for hit music...especially Soul and R & B.
This is another one of my faves where I just have to...
...turn it up, and rip the knob off.
Jim Croce--It Doesn't Have To Be That Way
I've always felt that this is a "lost" Christmas song.
In this song, the trappings of the Christmas season make Croce pine for a lost relationship.
Making this song even more poignant, it was released for Christmas 1973. Croce was killed in a plane crash just weeks earlier, September 20, 1973. He was 30.
Vince Guaraldi Trio--Linus & Lucy (theme)
Schroeder...um...Vince ("a reformed boogie-woogie piano player") could really tickle the ivories.
It's not Christmas without "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (debuting in 1965), Charlie Brown's tree, and this song.
This was the first Christmas special featuring... kids' voices...playing...kids. CBS executives were not thrilled by the show (they even wanted to cancel it, before it aired) until the ratings came out.
Remember what Lucy wants for the holidays? "Real Estate."
Trans-Siberian Orchestra--Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24
Once again, it's back to the Philly years. I remember our morning guy at the time (1996) coming in with this CD, and playing it one morning. He said something along the lines of: "These guys are friends of mine, they're poor, starving musicians from Eastern Europe. It would be really cool if you guys would like this song, and buy it, and support them." Who knew?
Poor and starving no more, Trans-Siberian Orchestra tours around the world playing sold-out shows. I'd like to think some of our "spins" in Philly got this whole thing started. The morning guy in question worked in NYC and San Francisco before he came to us...and has helmed the morning show on L.A.'s Oldies station for many years. But, I digress. This is a stirring piece of music. I still get goosebumps when playing it on the air.
Oh, and as you see, it makes for a really cool LIVE concert video, too.
Have a "Holly, Jolly Christmas," New Jersey.