If your first musical experiences were via Classic Rock radio stations in the 70’s you’ll no doubt remember a slew of songs that were played in the old “power rotation” this time of year. I’m talking about those holiday and Christmas rock songs, that we’re absolute staples for about 4 weeks, from Thanksgiving to Christmas Day at midnight (none of this playing holiday songs the day after Halloween back then!) There were several where, the moment I hear them, I immediately feel like like its the season.
“Step Into Christmas” – Elton John I defy anyone to not get in a good mood when you hear this song! A brilliant hook, that classic, 70’s sound that those brilliant Elton albums had. So upbeat, so happy. “Welcome to my Christmas song, I’d like to thank you for the year…” This is usually the first holiday song I listen to each year.
“Christmas Is A Time To Say I Love You” – Billy Squier Ahhh, yes…let’s pour the eggnog and get a big ‘ol sing-a-long going. You can’t help but raise a glass and belt this out, especially if you hear it in a bar! Love that big, 80’s-era Squier drum sound, too.
“Santa Claus and his Old Lady” – Cheech & Chong Classic Rock stations in the 70’s had a lot of DJ’s who, if they didn’t look like Tommy Chong, we’re probably just as high as often! And they had a sense of humor and I remember hearing this song a lot. I might have been 12 years old but this cracked me up and still does today. Not a song, but a rambling, funny story (with a lot of swinging, holiday-sounding music in the background) where Cheech tries and tells Chong his own version of Santa Claus: “…they used to live with all these midgets, man, and they were always pounding and hammering man…they started a commune, ‘The Santa Claus & His Old Lady Commune’” Awesome! Are Classic Rock stations even playing this anymore? Hell, its probably too long for them to…it probably screws up their commercial schedule!
“Father Christmas” – The Kinks Ray Davies tells a different, bleaker Christmas story, but with a rocking, punky, upbeat Kinks sound, filled with great guitar riffs and holiday bells and chimes. Bleak sounding, but come on, its just fun to sing out loud the chorus: “Father Christmas, give us your money, we’ll beat you up and steal all your toys!” But fear not, there’s a heartfelt message at the end, imploring us to remember the “kids who got nothing, while your drinking down your wine.”
“Baby Please Come Home For Christmas” – The Eagles “Bells will be ringing the sad, sad news…” and so sings Don Henley in the first verse of this bluesy, classic. Love the guitar solo here and Henley’s voice is perfect. A great update to an awesome song, originally released in 1960 and written by Charles Brown and Gene Redd.
“Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” – Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band So if THIS doesn’t put you in the holiday mood and spirit you’re hopeless! There’s lots of versions of this on You Tube by Bruce through the years, but the original that got radio play is the best. I used to know that intro by heart back then. And Clarence Clemon’s sax solo…timeless.
There so many more – David Bowie with Bing Crosby doing “Little Drummer Boy”, The Waitresses, Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” to name but a few others that I used to hear back then. What are some of YOUR favorite holiday songs you heard on the radio…and still do today?