Give a Listen: Some Off-Beat Christmas Music Recommendations


By Steve Pauwels

Something lighter for the season …

All things being equal, the Christmas time-of-year is my favorite stretch on the calendar – which is why around the Pauwels’ hearth Christmas tunes start turning up in the background around 1 November (actually a bit earlier this time around). I want to expand the run-up to the big day as long as possible. Just as I enjoy a nice slab of fruitcake with my cupful of delightfully cholesterol-choked eggnog anytime during the year’s waning two months, so I revel in Christmas music of all kinds – wistful standards, Victorian age classics. And some less traditional entrants in the Yuletide catalogue.

Not only generations-old perennials reliably play a role weaving Christmastide’s charming tapestry. More recent aural offerings occupy a place in my cherished, seasonal selections. So here, a few, possibly unfamiliar, suggestions which – in the spirit of Noel – I humbly recommend for spicing up your holiday’s musical punch:

1) “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth” (Bing Crosby/David Bowie): People who don’t remember glam-rocker Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” career phase can’t appreciate sufficiently the surrealism of his teaming up with buttoned-up Crosby to interpret a Christmas staple about a young shepherd/percussionist performing for the new-born Savior. Veteran crooner Crosby, whose pipes were crafted to carry Christmas melodies, supplies a pleasant take on “Drummer Boy”, while Bowie overlays it with a counterpoint written precisely for their 1977 television duet.

Allegedly, the flamboyant Briton initially grumbled,”I hate this [“Drummer Boy”] song. Is there something else I could sing?” The imaginative solution? “Peace on Earth”. The result? Unaccountably enchanting.

2) Manly-men aren’t supposed to be caught humming anything by balladeer Dan Fogleberg, but I’m secure enough in my masculinity to claim “Same Old Lange Syne“ as a personal favorite among December’s more unconventional musical crop. Contrary to its title’s suggestion, the piece’s narrative recounts faded dreams and heartache set on Christmas (not New Year’s) Eve.

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