I’ve always been the kind of person that can easily get completely wrapped up in every bit of the Christmas season from the annual network broadcast of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer to the core purpose of the season, the birth of our only hope Jesus Christ. Now that I have two kids, it is a challenge to maintain the self-discipline necessary to hold off all Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. Truth is, my family has now been listening to Christmas music for about three weeks.
By most standards I’ve got a fairly decent-sized collection of Christmas music that includes a wide variety from the classics sung by Bing Crosby and Gene Autrey to modern recordings of contemporary holiday carols released just this year. This brief series of blog posts will seek to highlight a few of the discs that remain in heavy rotation for me this year and a brief explanation of why.
Come On Christmas by Dwight Yoakam (1997)
Folks familiar with the characteristic twang in the voice of country artist Dwight Yoakam tend to have strong opinions about him either for better or worse. I, for one, have been a long-time fan of Dwight’s independent demeanor and what could be described as a unique perspective when compared with the mainstream of contemporary country music. Yoakam is just as much of a traditionalist as he is a member of the avante garde of rural America’s music. What he is not is mainstream, pop country. His style from one album to the next can vary widely and Come On Christmas is a holiday microcosm of Dwight’s meandering style.
While there are a few tracks that are typical of Yoakam’s rock-a-billy style of country like “Run, Run Rudolph,” and “Santa Claus Is Back In Town,” Come On Christmas shapes up as a survey of various styles synonymous with American music. The album opens with the understated, slow-tempoed and tin-hat induced title track that appeals to the hope that the Christmas season can bring as a respite to everyday worries. A favorite track of mine is Dwight’s polka-styled redition of “Silver Bells,” while Yoakam’s nod to big band music, “The Christmas Song,” lends a catchy jazz-inspired vocal performance that often finds itself trapped inside my head many times throughout the year whether the temperature is chilly or not. “Away In A Manger,” is the most traditional country recording on the album while “Santa Can’t Stay” closes the album with a lighthearted story about a drunken father dressed in a Santa suit who surprises his ex-wife and her new boyfriend on Christmas Eve.
For fans of Yoakam, as well as for most general Christmas music lovers, if you give it a shot, COME ON CHRISTMAS is sure to become a staple of your seasonal soundtrack just as it has for me.