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Ani’s Top Five “Blue Christmas” Songs

December 4, 2009

For many of us, Christmas this year won’t be that romantic, picture-perfect flickering fireplace vignette.  That Christmas tree may still be sparkling brightly, even if only as a way of acknowledging Christmases past, but Christmas won’t be quite so festive.   Some of us are alone this year.  Some of us have a loved one in the military . . . some of us have lost our partners . . . some of us are miles away from the folks we want to be with during the Holidays.

Here are my favorite Blue Christmas songs, with homage and honorable notice to the original blue Christmas classic: Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas.”  Elvis didn’t sing the words lightly; he created a blue Christmas at Graceland, ensconcing everything from porch to plants in blue lights.

5.  I’ll Be Home for Christmas (Harry Connick, Jr) No one does wistful with more skill than Harry Connick, Jr. When Harry says he is gonna figure out how to get home for Christmas, I believe it, even if the tone of the song has always suggested it may not really happen. Curl up with this hunky NOLA native and a nice Merlot and maybe you will be able to appreciate that sometimes folks have good intentions . . . but seeing them this year will probably only be in your dreams.  Might as well dream along with Harry.

4.  Have Yourself  a Merry Little Christmas (Luther Vandross)  There are many possible renditions of this song to choose from, but since Vandross’s death, savoring his honey-filled promises that we will all be together “if the fates allow” has become even more poignant.  Luther, I am hanging that star on the highest bough–just for you.

3.  Where are You, Christmas? (Faith Hill)  With a beautiful orchestral arrangement as backup and piano as frontispiece to Faith Hill’s lovely voice as it soars above it all . . .  how can anyone not get a bit teary-eyed when she asks “Where are you Christmas? Where is the laughter you used to bring me?  Why  can’t I hear music play?” We feel her plight and identify with her as she moves towards the recognition that “my world is changing; I am rearranging.  Does that mean Christmas changes, too?”  In the end, we are reminded “The joy of Christmas stays here inside us.”  It’s a point well taken.  Life is as good as we strive to make it and a Christmas spent alone doesn’t have to be devoid of meaning–or joy, for that matter.

2.  Once Upon a December (Deanna Carter) Although this magical song never directly mentions Christmas, the almost-remembered past that Deanna tries to grasp is filled with symbols that exemplify Holiday celebrations.  The artfully arranged symphonic backup incorporates a Russian Balalaika, giving the piece a mysterious balladic aura suggesting days long past.  We, too, can see the “dancing bears, painted wings” and we also remember a time someone held us “safe and warm.” Like Deanna, we recall those “things my heart used to know, once upon a December.”   The imagery is so lovely, the music so evocative . . . it really is the perfect song for reminiscing about a happier time and place.

1. Miss You Most at Christmas Time (Mariah Carey) As the title suggests, this is a straight-up plaintive song, with no artifice attached.  It’s cold; Carolers sing in the distance; everyone is celebrating–except Mariah.  We don’t know who she is separated from–or why–and it doesn’t matter.

I gaze out the window this cold winter’s night at all of the twinkling lights.  Alone in the darkness, remembering when you were mine . . . Everybody’s smiling; the whole world is rejoicing, and everyone’s embracing–except for you and I.

In the springtime, those memories start to fade. With the April rain, through the summer days–till autumn’s leaves are gone–I get by without you, till the snow begins to fall . . . And then I miss you most at Christmas time. . .

A poignant song by anyone’s standards, if Mariah Carey had done nothing else in her career except write this song, it would have earned her a place of respect among lyricists/composers.  There simply could never be a more touching Blue Christmas song.

Scroll down! We have loaded up a virtual Nano with Blue Christmas songs and added a few other favorite Christmas tunes, as well.

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