Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Christmas Music: Mahalia Jackson & Bing Crosby

Generally, when it comes to Christmas music, my family listened to various-artists albums. Depending on the decade, we'd listen to old Time Life records, A Very Special Christmas on tape, the latest Starbucks Christmas CD compilation, or most recently, my dad's self-designed mp3 compilation including everything from the Cocteau Twins to Johnny Mathis. We always liked a good mix, lots of variety, never a dull moment. I pretty much had favorite Christmas songs, not Christmas albums.

Recently, though, I've been enjoying listening to a couple single-artist Christmas sound, one person's take on the familiar tunes from beginning to end. Here are the two (both from the Laserlight label) that have been in rotation in my house this week:
Bing Crosby's White Christmas is of course a classic. This particular disc is made up of old radio recordings, so there's a bit of hiss, and a fair amount of radio banter and chatting. It's nice & cozy, like Bing & I are having a little talk about what Christmas means to him. It's a quiet, joyful, sit around the fire and play cards kind of Christmas album that the whole family can enjoy.

I wouldn't call this one cozy. If Mahalia Jackson can't get your blood boiling, you might want to check your pulse. Gospel Christmas/Silent Night is exactly what it sounds like...a gospel Christmas celebration. Again, these are live cuts, so there is talking (preaching!) and hiss, and Mahalia wrings these old hymns dry and then breathes new life into them again. This is a decorating the tree, baking cookies, get-ready! kind of Christmas album.

Click HERE to view my husband Kevin's favorite childhood Christmas album. I bet we all secretly enjoyed this one at one point or another! How about you? Any favorite albums? Please post a comment & share the joy!

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