Living Wright: Tunes bring back memories of Christmases past
BY JASON ASHLEY WRIGHT World Scene Writer
Thursday, December 13, 2012
12/18/12 at 9:44 AM
Go to Jason Ashley Wright's BlogOriginal Print Headline: Season of song
"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" used to irk me as a child.
This kid's mom must be a piping-hot tart, I'd used to think to myself. I mean, messing around with another man is one thing, but in front of your kid? At Christmas? And with Santa?! Surely, hell's gonna swallow this Jezebel up before New Year's.
Of course, after "the talk," I got the joke - but still don't count "I Saw Mommy" among my favorites, even though a country song with the same falsely adulterous theme ranks high on my Top 10 Christmas tune list.
Here are the songs I enjoy listening to most this time of year:
10. "Baby, It's Cold Outside." Although my favorite version is Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan's, I love She & Him's version - "She" being Zooey Deschanel, who also sang it in the movie "Elf." And now I'm suddenly craving maple syrup and spaghetti ...
9. "Joseph Dearest, Joseph Mine." I have no idea what group sang this, but it was on a holiday compilation 8-track tape Mom and Dad used to own. It reminds me of putting up the Christmas tree my freshman year of high school in Pensacola, Fla. - and Mom's no-bake peanut butter-chocolate-oatmeal cookies cooling on the kitchen counter.
8. "Angels We Have Heard on High." During Sunday sermons throughout the year, I'd often flip through the Baptist Hymnal, find this song and sing it in my head. Did this from age 5 to 19. Maybe 20.
7. "River." It's melancholic for a Christmas song, but I (heart) this Joni Mitchell gem.
6. "There's No Place Like Home." I'm not talking about the "Pennsylvania and some homemade pumpkin pie" version but Glenn Campbell's - mostly because Mamaw Wright had this on circa-'70s vinyl, and a scratch made Glenn repeat, "There's NO ... There's NO ... There's NO ..." until someone hip-bumped the stereo.
5. "What Sweeter Music." John Rutter's lush hymn performed by the Cambridge Singers has often brought a tear to my eye - and, thanks to its use in a '90s commercial, made me want to drive a Volvo.
4. "O Holy Night." My heart says Mahalia Jackson, but my inner diva screams Mariah Carey.
3. "Song for a Winter's Night." Sarah McLachlan's version resonates most with me, and it's the main reason I bought her "Wintersong" album at Starbucks a few years ago.
2. "Ave Maria." The late, great Karen Carpenter's version from her and brother Richard's "Christmas Portrait" album has always been my favorite, from the music box-like beginning to Karen's pitch-perfect "Amen."
1. "Santa Looks A Lot Like Daddy." This Buck Owens-crooned classic instantly takes me back to Mamaw's skipping stereo and her tinsel-strewn live tree with its scalding outdoor lights, which should've caused a five-alarm catastrophe every year. A glorious, music-filled catastrophe I wish I could relive every day of my life.