It’s Christmas, so we’re giving you two ways to listen to the Holiday Mix Tape.
- Click here to open Spotify
- Listen to the entire 15-song YouTube playlist below. (It looks like one video but each Christmas song will play in succession.)
1. Hallelujah, Rufus Wainwright.
A gorgeous hymn that’s not about Christmas. Written by Leonard Cohen and covered by many great vocalists. The title means “Praise the Lord,” the song is about sex, and Rufus Wainwright’s voice is that boozy eggnog you secretly like. Perfect for the holidays.
Lyric listen: There’s a blaze of light in every word / It doesn’t matter what you heard / The holy or the broken Hallelujah
2. 2000 Miles, The Pretenders.
Written in 1983 about The Pretenders’ original guitarist who died a year before its release. But, if you want, you can imagine that it’s a song about long distance lovers missing each other at the holidays. Or, you could just consider it a literal song about distance, because 2000 miles is actually very far.
Lyric Listen: In these frozen and silent nights / Sometimes in a dream you appear / Outside under the purple sky / Diamonds in the snow sparkle / Our hearts were singing / It felt like Christmas time
3. The First Song, Band of Horses.
It’s unclear if this song is about the birth of a child or the awkwardness of holidays with family. I dunno. DOES ANYONE HAVE THE INTERNET? For sure though, it’s a big ethereal sound coming at you from all directions. Turn it up.
Lyric Listen: And Christmas time coming / Hangover approaching / We’ve been drinking for long
4. Xmas Time Is Here Again, My Morning Jacket.
Off the Y2K EP, it’s a song about how Christmas is here again. CUZ IT KEEPS HAPPENING. MMJ’s rich harmonies make it a real purty song for the season.
Lyric Listen: Been tossin’ and a-turnin’ all through the night / I’ll be wide awake until broad daylight / ‘Cause Christmas, Christmas, Christmas Eve is here again
5. Winter Song, The Head and The Heart.
Not exactly about Christmas, definitely about winter. Expansive harmonies confess an aching heart. Warm, like fireplaces and hot chocolate.
Lyric Listen: Tell me somethin’, give me hope for the night / We don’t know how we feel / We’re just prayin’ that we’re doin’ this right / Though that’s not the way it seems
6. Please Come Home for Christmas, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals.
Bluesy, jazzy, sexxxaaayy. Straight outta Vermont.
Lyric Listen: Bells will be ringing this sad sad news / Oh what a Christmas to have the blues / My baby’s gone I have no friends / To wish me greetings once again
7. White Christmas, Otis Redding. Because Otis Redding.
Also, cheers to the white Christmases we used to know. Before global climate change tore us up inside.
Lyric Listen: I’m dreaming of a white Christmas / Just like the ones I used to know / Where the treetops glisten and children listen / To hear sleigh bells in the snow
8. Ain’t No Chimneys in the Projects, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings.
New old school funky soul reveals chimney-ghetto loophole. Spoilers ahead.
Lyric Listen: When I was a child I used to wonder / How Santa put my toys under the tree / I said, momma can you tell me how this can be? / When there ain’t no chimneys in the projects
￼9. Merry Christmas Baby, B.B. King.
My father was a huge B.B. fan and once gave me tickets to a show for Christmas. If it’s possible to add more value to a live B.B. show, then it’s my father narrating the history of the blues between songs and quizzing me the next morning on what I learned about cultural appropriation. So yeah. This track’s for my dad, Bluesman Johnny.
Lyric Listen: Santa came down the chimney / Half past three, y’all / Left all them good ole presents / For my baby and for me
10. Christmas in Hollis, Run-D.M.C.
Featured on the 1987 compilation album, A Very Special Christmas, it’s an ode to Christmas in Hollis, Queens. Upon its release, white people everywhere cried and clutched their children because, prior to this song, they didn’t know Santa was a homie.
Lyric Listen: Rhymes so loud and proud to hear it / It’s Christmas time and we got the spirit / Jack Frost chillin’, the hawk is out / And that’s what Christmas is all about / The time is now, the place is here / And the whole wide world is filled with cheer
11. Father Christmas, The Kinks.
Released in 1977, Father Christmas tells the tale of a department store Santa who gets beat up by a gang of disgruntled poor kids tired of getting nothing for Christmas. It rocks cuz it’s The Kinks.
Lyric Listen: Have yourself a merry merry Christmas / Have yourself a good time / But remember the kids who got nothin’ / While you’re drinkin’ down your wine
12. Fairytale of New York, The Pogues.
An Irishman sleeps off a bender in the drunk tank, dreams of lost loves and broken dreams. This tune’s mean, jubilant, and sentimental. Just like a drunk on Christmas.
Lyric Listen: You took my dreams from me / When I first found you / I kept them with me babe / I put them with my own / Can’t make it all alone
13. Santa Clause is Coming to Town, Bruce Springsteen.
Lyric Listen: Clarence, you been rehearsing real hard now? / So Santa will bring you a new saxophone?
14. Christmas Treat, Julian Casablancas.
My 8 year old says this song describes exactly how he feels. The original is awesome, but definitely waste a half hour on YouTube watching Jimmy Fallon, Horatio Sanz, and Morgan Tracy cover it on Saturday Night Live.
Or just watch this: https://vimeo.com/82542924
Lyric Listen: I don’t care what the neighbors say / Christmas time is near / I don’t care what anyone says / Christmas is full of cheer
15. Auld Lang Syne, Phish Live @ Worcester Memorial Auditorium, 12/31/91.
This is 53 seconds of pure nostalgia. Can you hear me tripping? Oh WAIT, I mean CHEERING. I was there! No lyrics. Just swirly elation and friends and tingly tinsel feels.