Christmas By Jews

From the Facebook page of Mark Michaels comes an article about the best Christmas songs written by my Jewish brethren. The story appears here in Tablet and is written by Marc Tracy. I have excerpted the top 10.

10. “The Christmas Waltz,” music and lyrics by Sammy Cahn and Julie Styne. “Listen to Sinatra’s version of this interestingly self-referential lyric.”

9. “Silver Bells,” music by Jay Livingston, lyrics by Ray Evans.

8. “Winter Wonderland,” music and lyrics by Felix Bernard. “Michael Feinstein was my source on this one. And I’m surprised! The lyrics involve an impromptu wedding ceremony performed by a Parson Brown. The most interesting lyrical moment is the rhyme of ’snow man’ and ‘no, man.’”

7. “Santa Baby,” music and lyrics by Joan Ellen Javits and Philip Springer. “Very enjoyable song. The closest thing to a jazz song here. ‘Santa Baby, hurry down the chimney to me.’ It adapts the conventions of Christmas songs to become a kind of love and seduction song. Eartha Kitt sings a swell version.”

6. “Sleigh Ride,” lyrics by Mitchell Parrish. “Sometimes people encounter it as a musical backdrop. On a personal note, I remember flying between the U.S. and England in the 1970s, and at Heathrow or Gatwick or JFK, you would always hear that. I had never liked it particularly, but because of the association it is very dear to me. Parrish—born Michael Hyman Pashelinsky in Lithuania—wrote the lyrics to one of the most famous of all jazz standards, Hoagy Carmichael’s ‘Stardust.’”

5. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” music by Buck Ram, lyrics by Walter Kent. “Like ‘White Christmas’ and ‘Have Yourself,’ this song was popular during World War II, and it appeals to a certain nostalgia and homesickness, not only on the parts of the troops abroad, but the loved ones at home.”

4. “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm,” music and lyrics by Irving Berlin. “This is a great song that is sometimes overlooked when people think of great Christmas songs, in part because of the other major Berlin effort in this category, and in part because it is one of the few songs on this list that can be done come snow or shine, year in and year out.”

3. “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow,” lyrics by Sammy Cahn, music by Julie Styne. “This is my own favorite of the ‘Jingle Bells’-type Christmas song. I love the way it is used as the exit music in Die Hard.”

2. “The Christmas Song” (“Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”), music and lyrics by Mel Tormé and Bob Wells. “These first two picks are traditional Christmas songs—they mention the holiday explicitly, are full of heartfelt sentiment, and may jerk a few tears.”

1. “White Christmas,” music and lyrics by Irving Berlin. “Bing Crosby’s version is the best-selling single ever.”

No matter what the religion or level of religiosity you are I hope that this season, and all others, are times of peace and joy.

Happy holidays!

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3 Responses to Christmas By Jews

  1. Frank says:

    Hey, they missed one…Christmastime for the Jews, one of my all time favorite SNL movies/skits. It’s the best.

    Happy holidays to you, my friend.

  2. Pax Romano says:

    Here’s another vote for Christmastime for the Jews…

    The Christmas Song is one of the most beautiful songs ever, no matter that it’s a seasonal song, it’s genius.

    Thank goodness so many talented Jewish folks have written Xmas ditties, or we’d be stuck with dreck by Toby Keith and his ilk.

    Happy Holidays!

  3. quite interesting …. given your interests, would you be able to comment on Islam & antisemitism below:

    http://kashifshahzada.wordpress.com/2009/12/20/does-the-qur%E2%80%99an-support-anti-semitism/

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