Friday, December 14, 2012

Weekend Listening: Holiday Playlist from Jillian

It's been a while since we did a Weekend Listening post, so I'm gonna start it up again. Holiday tunes are on the docket this weekend, and I can think of no one better than my very music-savvy friend Jillian to tell us about the best holiday songs we should be listening to while we sip eggnog and trim trees. Jillian... take it away!


Christmas is a lot of pressure. How can we get done everything we think we need to do? How can we get everyone exactly what they want? How can we all get along as a family? How can we be with all the people we love?

(We can’t.)

So what I hope for is a good breakfast. That at least one present I buy for my nieces, Grace and Madelynn, will make them throw their arms around my neck when they unwrap it. That the once-a-year remarkable calm in my neighborhood in Philadelphia will bring me a sense of peace. And most of all, that I will get to use those in-between moments of Christmas – driving in the car, wrapping presents, having a beer after everyone’s gone to bed – to listen to Jon Solomon’s 24-Hour Holiday Radio Show on WPRB.

I’ve been listening to Solomon’s show for 10 Christmases, but he’s been doing it for 25. From Christmas Eve at 6 p.m. to Christmas Day at 6 p.m., Solomon, who happens to be Jewish, plays holiday songs and stories that haven’t been piped into malls for the past month, and that you’ve likely never even heard of. There’s Archers of Loaf, the Mountain Goats, Yo La Tengo, and Neko Case, but there’s also tracks like “SEPTA Santa” by King Mistletoe, “’Twas the Night Before Jesus” from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and the Pork Dukes’ “My Mother Gave Me a Gun for Christmas (waltz version).” As Solomon says on his website, his 24 sleepless hours result in listeners experiencing him “slowly fall apart in real time,” but he does it enthusiastically, gracefully and hilariously. He is truly full of holiday spirit.

Every year Christmas is different for me – I’ve been in airport wine bars, at home alone with the cats, but also, luckily, with family. This will be the first year I won’t see Grace and Madelynn on Christmas since they’ve been born – they’re 8 and 9. But I’ll still have my decade-long holiday tradition of turning on the radio (or streaming it online) and being among those who are hearing something insane like the Flaming Lips’ “Jesus Shooting Heroin.” Someday, my nieces will be old enough to listen to that.

I make a holiday mix CD every year, and the songs that follow are among my favorites from those mixes. Some have been played Solomon on his shows. The song lists from the shows can be found on Solomon’s website,

1) “Merry Christmas From the Family,” Robert Earl Keen (1994)
Let’s be honest, sometimes instead of Beaujolais and prime rib for Christmas dinner, it’s margaritas and Salem Lights. That’s what this song is about. It makes me miss my family immensely. And I love the way he 
says “AA.”

2) “What WE Do on Christmas,” Atom and His Package (1998)
This can be found on the first My Pal God (Solomon’s record label) Holiday Record. What do Jews do on Christmas? “You think we're sitting around polishing our horns / Making soup with the blood of the Christian born? / You think I’m being rude? / We go to the movies and eat Chinese food.”

3) “I Wanna Take You Out in Your Holiday Sweater,” Pas/Cal (2003)
A catchy pop confection. This is what should be stuck in your head for days instead of “Hey Santa!”

4) “I Am Blessed (Wax Tailor Remix),” Nina Simone (2008)
This is from the album “Verve Remixed Christmas,” which features reinterpretations of classic holiday songs – your dad’s either gonna love it or hate it. I usually can’t stand Christmas songs when played at times other than the holidays, but I listen to this track all year long.

5) “Christmas Wrapping,” The Waitresses (1982)
Probably my all-time favorite Christmas song. I get chills when it comes on the radio.

6) “Just Like Christmas,” Low (1999)
A quiet and beautiful track from Low’s album Christmas, it also appears on “Music from The O.C. Mix 3: Have a Very Merry Chrismukkah.”

7) “Toy Jackpot,” Blackalicious (2010)
Two years ago Target put out a free holiday album, and it was awesome! Bishop Allen! Best Coast and Wavves! And this song, which is a blast. I don’t care if it was in a commercial. (Starbucks does pretty good Christmas albums too.)

8) “Christmas in Prison,” John Prine (1973)
A beautiful country tune. “It was Christmas in prison / And the food was real good / We had turkey and pistols / Carved out of wood.”

9) “I Wish it Was Christmas Today,” Julian Casablancas (2009)
It started out on Saturday Night Live, and it’s super fun. Use it to kick off your holiday party.

10) “Hey Guys! It’s Christmas Time!”, Sufjan Stevens (2006)
Sufjan Stevens’ boxed set Songs for Christmas is beautiful – it’s best to buy the hard copy rather than download it (comes with stickers!). He approaches Christmas music with deep sincerity, but also a sense of humor (“Get Behind Me, Santa!”) And great news – Stevens has another holiday boxed set out this year (Silver & Gold). I can’t wait to hear the 12-minute “Christmas Unicorn.”

Thanks Jillian!! Isn't this an awesome playlist? It only cements all the reasons why I adore Jillian. For easy listening, just click below to play these songs via Spotify, or follow this link (you can subscribe to the list, if you'd like... maybe we can convince Jillian to add more songs!)

No comments: