Here are 10 great songs for the holidays
What outlet for the great Christmas carols?
The people of New Jersey are the source of some of the greatest Christmas carols of all time, and it’s no surprise. It’s in our DNA. The same goes for camaraderie, brotherhood, brotherhood, and finding the next guy.
We need it more than ever.
With that said, here’s our list of the top 10 Christmas songs from Jersey artists. Some are well known, others are a bit obscure, but they all bring festivity, fun and warmth to the holiday season.
10. “All Alone on Christmas” (1992) by Darlene Love and the E Street Band and Miami Horns
Darlene Love channels classic Phil Spector Christmas records in this song written for the movie “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” by Little Steven Van Zandt. We love the incomparable chimes and saxophone sounds of the late Clarence Clemons.
9. ‘O Holy Night’ (1994) by Dionne Warwick
The Jersey music icon gives a moving rendition of the classic Christmas carol on the 1994 album “Celebration in Vienna” with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. The album combines the talents of Warwick and Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo. Warwick has a special ability to tap into the emotional core of a song (that’s what makes her Bacharach / David songs so timeless), and she does it here too.
8. “Have a Merry Little Christmas” (1957) by Frank Sinatra
Sinatra’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” sparkles with the Hoboken native not exaggerating or downplaying the sentimentality of the seasonal classic, introduced by Judy Garland in the 1944 film “Meet Me in St. Louis”. The track was included in the 1957 album “A Jolly Christmas From Frank Sinatra” and was used in the crucial execution scene of the 1963 anti-war film “The Victors”.
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7. ‘Merry Christmas, Baby Jesus’ (2012) by Billy Brown and the Broadways
This cheerful gem was released in 2012 by Billy Brown, a Farmingdale native who became a hitmaker with The Moments and Ray, Goodman and Brown. “Merry Christmas, Baby Jesus” was co-written by Ronald Coleman, Brown’s bandmate in ’60s Asbury Park band The Broadways. It’s a sweet, melodic ballad of faith and wonder – and a wonderful reflection of the holiday season.
6. “White Christmas” (1959) by Connie Francis
The singing arrangement contrasts nicely with the gentle pain of Francis’ voice on his cover of the Irving Berlin classic. The song is courtesy of the 1959 album “Christmas in My Heart”, and it’s a joy. Interestingly, the album was recorded at the famous Abbey Road Studios in London.
5. “Do you hear what I hear / Baba O’Riley” by Tom Brislin and Spiraling
A case of holiday magic, Dunellen keyboard maestro Tom Brislin (Yes, Meat Loaf and now Kansas) and his band Spiraling combined “Do You Hear What I Hear”, made a Bing Crosby debut in 1963, with “Baba O” by The Who ‘Riley’ for a sublime and quite uplifting seasonal excursion. We also love his “Nutrocker”.
4. Smithereens’ “Christmas Morning” (2020)
“Should I be fighting just to stay awake all night?” Sings Pat DiNizio on “Christmas Morning” written by Jim Babjak. This rock tribute to the joys of childhood Christmas was reissued by the group in 2020.
“For me, Christmas has always been a time of peace and reflection,” Babjak said in a statement. “Even just for one day, everything will be fine with the world. And in this time of COVID-19 and political divisiveness, the song couldn’t be more vital. The song musically and lyrically expresses a timeless feeling of hope and calm, that waking up on Christmas morning, all is well on Christmas day.
3. “The Twelve Days of Christmas” by Jigs Giglio
If you haven’t seen Jigs Giglio perform “Twelve Days of Christmas” yet, the sixth day of Christmas is going to give you nightmares. New Brunswick musician Jigs Giglio often performs a rugged and hilarious pantomime version of the region’s seasonal classic, and the holidays will never be the same for those who see it. Yes, it’s Glen Burtnik on vocals.
2. “You’re a bad guy, Mr. Grinch” by the Whirling Dervishes
Don Dazzo and Thurl Ravenscroft – separated at birth? In the early ’90s, when playing holiday songs wasn’t the right thing to do, Dazzo and the Whirling Dervishes unveiled their version of “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” which was sung at originally by Ravenscroft in 1966 “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” He was wonderfully depraved in the best holiday way, and has since become a Jersey classic. Tim McLoone and Holiday Express also make a great version. As cuddly as a cactus? Yeah.
1. “Santa Claus Comes to Town” (1985) by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
How do you spend Christmas on the Jersey Shore? Bruce Springsteen explains it in his version of “Santa Claus Comes to Town”.
“It’s cold on the beach,” says Bruce Springsteen on the track. “The wind is blowing on the promenade.”
We freeze, then we warm up.
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There is spontaneous joy in “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, recorded live in 1975 and released as the B-side of “My Hometown” in 1985. The song portrays a close-knit group of misfit friends, dodging the winter chill of the walk to find the warmth of Christmas in each other’s company – after practicing their instruments very hard.
We promise, Santa, that we will be good boys and girls.
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Chris Jordan, originally from the Jersey Shore, covers entertainment and reporting for USA Today Network New Jersey. Contact him at @chrisfhjordan; [email protected]