James Jones Column: Always carried strong holiday tunes

Published 10:17 am Sunday, December 24, 2023

Christmas songs always appear on my radar the day after Thanksgiving. The tradition began with me as a teenager 40 years ago during the 1980’s. Whenever I mention the 1980’s, I feel it’s a sign of me getting old.

However, I kept the tradition of playing holiday tunes after Thanksgiving as I got older. The holiday songs never got old and tired with me as I closed the Christmas book on Dec. 27 every year.

Here are my five favorite Christmas songs, ones that I listen to every day between Nov. 25 and Dec. 27:

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-”Silent Night” by The Temptations:  This is the Classic Christmas song for me. The late Dennis Edwards may be third all-time among late Temptations lead singers David Ruffin and Eddie Kendrick, but stamps his legendary status with this 1980 version of “Silent Night.” Growing up R&B, stations played this song three times a day.

-”This Christmas” by Donny Hathaway: My older cousin, who was stationed in the U.S. Army for many years got me hooked into this song. I did not like the song at first, but the more I listened, the more I began to like it.

-”Gee Whiz” by It’s Christmas: Carla Thomas always sang in the shadow of her famous father, Rufus Thomas, but she soared with his quick, off-beat tune. It’s always been at the top of my list of holiday tunes.

-Charles Brown double: “Please Come for Christmas” and “Merry Christmas Baby” originally done by late Blues singer Charles Brown are the versions of these two songs I listen to. Nothing comes close to Charles Brown in my opinion.

If I was held at gunpoint to name another five:

-”Santa Baby” by Eartha Kitt: Why this song doesn’t receive much airplay these days boggles my mind. In my opinion, Kitt has never gotten the respect she richly deserves as a singer and actress.

-Christmas Just Ain’t Christmas (Without the One You Love), the Ojays: A quick song that gets it point across.

-What Christmas Means to me, Stevie Wonder: One of my many favorite songs by Wonder for Christmas, this melodic tune is the best.

-What do the lonely do at Christmas, the  Emotions: My late mother got me hooked on this song and it never left me.

-Let’s make Christmas Mean Something, James Brown:  I had an uncle who was a big James Brown fan.  At Christmas every year, he always made sure a James Brown song was played during the holidays

Once in a while, I listen to tunes like Wham’s “Last Christmas” and “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth” by the late David Bowie and Big Crosby. when I tune into Classic VH-1.

When you grew up around a musical family, your taste is high-quality music.

This generation’s version of Classic Christmas songs done by current artists wouldn’t cut it. I’ll leave that to the younger generation. Not my style.