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15 Greatest Christmas Recordings (part 1 of 3)

Last year, I presented a three-part series, chronicling my take on the 15 greatest Christmas recordings of all time. As a result of countless requests, I will be reprising the list over the next three weeks. So, let’s get the list rolling.

15. Pretty Paper - Roy Orbison

When Roy Orbison wrapped his distinctive vocals around “Pretty Paper,” it was a stunning piece of work. The song was penned by Willie Nelson at a time when he was gaining popularity as a songwriter but was still unknown as a singer. Although this 1972 recording doesn’t possess the happy, fun-loving times of the season, it is a solid piece of work from both a composition and artistic standpoint.

14. Christmas Time Is Here - The Vince Guaraldi Trio

In 1965, The Vince Guaraldi Trio released “Christmas Time Is Here.” Over the years, this piano-based tune has become a favorite due to the television special “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” which was sung by the Peanuts characters. Critically, this has to be an all-time favorite.

13. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! - Dean Martin

The highly popular Dean Martin put his lively touch to “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” twice, one in 1959 and again in 1965. Written by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne, the tune is interesting from the standpoint that there is no mention of Christmas or holidays in the lyrics. Instead, it is about having fun on a snowy day by hanging out with that special person by the fire. Others have recorded it, but Martin did it best.

12. Holly Jolly Christmas - Burl Ives

Burl Ives was a star of both stage and screen. Also, he was a very proficient folk singer. Not only did Ives’ version of “Holly Jolly Christmas” appear in the television special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” but he served as the programs narrator, Sam the Snowman. Ives scored two big country hits with “Little Bitty Tear” and “A Funny Way of Laughin’,” but he is known by many for his rendition of this holiday favorite.

11. Blue Christmas - Elvis Presley

The bluesy nature of “Blue Christmas” was tailor-made for Elvis Presley. Recorded in 1960, the King of Rock and Roll put his hiccup-style vocals to this sad tale of being lonely during the holiday season. More than a decade before Presley delivered this song, country music legend Ernest Tubb recorded it. However, it will forever be linked to Presley.

Next week, the list continues with more memorable Christmas hits.

Beebe writer Charles Haymes is a member of both the Country Music Association and the International Bluegrass Music Association. Email him at chaymes@sbcglobal.net.

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