I’ve been very carefully building a Christmas playlist for over a decade. I only add one song a year, and I only listen to the songs on the list between Thanksgiving and the Epiphany. There are now fourteen songs on the list.

  1. Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley
  2. The Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues
  3. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Judy Garland
  4. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” by Dean Martin
  5. Christmas Time is Here (Instrumental)” by Vince Guaraldi Trio
  6. Happy Xmas (War is Over)” by John Lennon
  7. Father Christmas” by The Kinks
  8. The Christmas Song” by Nat “King” Cole
  9. White Christmas” by Bing Crosby
  10. Baby It’s Cold Outside” by Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Jordan
  11. Here Comes Santa Claus” by Elvis Presely
  12. What Christmas Means to Me” by Stevie Wonder
  13. Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy” by David Bowie & Bing Crosby
  14. Merry Xmas Everybody” by Slade

New this year is the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s classic “Christmas Time is Here (Instrumental)”. I’ve also resequenced the list with an ear for the flow of the songs. It starts, as always, with “Hallelujah” and “The Fairytale of New York,” then jumps back in time and tone to Judy Garland, working a bit more modern each song until “Father Christmas.” If this were a record, that would be the end of side A. Side B starts back with a classic tune, again getting a bit more modern with each tune until Slade ends things.

When I started the list I think my goal was to pick off-kilter songs but over time I’ve realized that Christmas songs have to be mostly done in earnest to really work. I have tons of less conventional Christmas songs in my iTunes library but I think the list has to be grounded by the classics to work. Thus this year’s addition of “Christmas Time is Here,” which adds some classic warmth to be offset by the Kinks two songs later.