Triple Played: ‘Other’ Christmas music

“It was Christmas in prison / The food was real good / We had turkey and pistols carved out of wood.”

— John Prine from “A John Prine Christmas”

By this time of the season, I am all burned out on traditional Christmas music with a few exceptions. In fact, I don’t care if I ever hear “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” again!

If I was forced to pick a favorite Christmas song right now, it would be “My Favorite Things” performed by John Coltrane.

I like that song so much it really doesn’t matter who does it, but Coltrane’s more than 13-minute version is the one I like best.

This goes back to my grade school days in Gypsum when we performed “The Sound of Music” for our parents and teachers at Eagle Valley High School. We had to learn all of the songs and “My Favorite Things” was and still is my favorite holiday song.

Countless rock ‘n’ roll artists have recorded one or two original Christmas songs, but very few ever take the time to create an entire album dedicated to Christmas.

Tom Petty, George Thorogood, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger, Stevie Nicks, Paul McCartney and on and on have all recorded at least one. Cheech and Chong even weighed in with “Santa Claus and His Old Lady,” which has become a Christmas classic.

“A Jethro Tull Christmas” is high on my list of complete albums dedicated to Christmas by contemporary musicians. I cannot think of any other rock band that is more suited to pull it off than Jethro Tull. Their medieval sound is so reminiscent of the renaissance, to me.

With originals such as “Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow,” “First Snow on Brooklyn,” “Weathercock” and “Last Man at the Party,” this is great holiday music.

However Jethro Tull’s songs are not without a message for us all, as you can see by these lyrics from “A Christmas Song”: “When you’re stuffing yourselves at the Christmas parties / You’ll just laugh when I tell you to take a running jump / You’re missing the point I’m sure does not need making / That Christmas spirit is not what you drink”.

From “Another Christmas Song,” first verse: “Hope everybody’s ringing on their own bell, this fine morning, yeah / Hope everyone’s connected to that long distance phone / Old man, he’s a mountain, old man, he’s an island / Old man, he’s a waking says, ‘I’m going to call, call all my children home.’”

From the last verse: “How many wars you’re fighting out there, this winters morning? Yeah / Maybe it’s always time for another Christmas song / Old man he’s asleep now but he’s got appointments to keep now / Dreaming of his sons and his daughters, yeah / Proving, proving that the blood is strong.”

Michael Martin Murphey’s “Cowboy Christmas” is another favorite because of his western take on the three wise men with “Corn, Water and Wood” as well as “Christmas On the Line” and “The Christmas Letter” with cowboy poet Waddie Mitchell.

“Christmas” with Jorma Kaukonen (Jefferson Airplane, Quah, Hot Tuna) from 1996 is another favorite with a disc full of mostly original tunes featuring the hilarious “Christmas Rule” as well as “Holiday Marmalade,” “You’re Still Standing,” “Downhill Sleigh Ride” and others.

“We held hands and stared at the lights on the tree / As if Christmas was invented for you and for me / When the angel on the treetop requested a song /We sang, “Silent night all day long.”

— John Prine from “A John Prine Christmas”

Merry Christmas everybody!

Rock Cesario owns Triple Play Records, 530 Main St., and hosts “Acoustic Sunday” from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday on the Vault 100.7 FM. Email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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