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Twelve Songs of Christmas: Day 10

December 24, 2011 Leeann Ward 4






Song #10: Christmas Time’s A-Coming

Sam’s Pick: Peter Rowan

Admittedly, this is a much more recent song that some of the other songs we’ve covered. But this song, written by Tex Logan, has become a standard in the bluegrass and country world. I heard this version from Peter Rowan on a Sugar Hill Christmas sampler album many years ago, and it’s still my favorite. It’s a very relaxed, low-key version, but it still captures the joy of coming home for the holidays.

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Twelve Songs of Christmas: Day Nine

December 23, 2011 Sam Gazdziak 1






Song #9: We Three Kings

Leeann’s Pick: George Strait

From Strait’s strongest and best Christmas album, his acoustic country version of “We Three Kings” is both beautifully arranged and reverently sung.






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Twelve Songs of Christmas: Day Eight

December 22, 2011 Leeann Ward 2






Song #8: Joy to the World

Sam’s Pick: Patty Loveless

Loveless’ Bluegrass and White Snow is one of the best Christmas albums around and a staple of my holiday soundtrack. This song boasts background vocals from Jon Randall and Emmylou Harris, which proves that if you want to make a great song even better, get Emmylou to sing on it.






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Twelve Songs of Christmas: Day Seven

December 21, 2011 Sam Gazdziak 3






Song #7: I’ll Be Home For Christmas

Leeann’s Pick: Dwight Yoakam

To be honest, this isn’t actually one of my favorite Christmas songs. Dwight Yoakam’s rhythmic version, however, is just funky enough for me to focus without getting bored.






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Twelve Songs of Christmas: Day Six

December 20, 2011 Leeann Ward 3






Song #6: Silent Night

Sam’s Pick: Cherish the Ladies

In my opinion, “Silent Night” is the most beautiful of all Christmas carols. Here, the traditional Celtic band does a lovely interpretation of it, sung in both English and Gaelic. Former lead singer Heidi Talbot has a simply stunning voice, and the Ladies’ On Christmas Night is a worthwhile purchase for anyone who likes and few jigs and reels mixed in with their Christmas standards.






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Twelve Songs of Christmas: Day Five

December 19, 2011 Sam Gazdziak 2






Song #5: Away in a Manger

Leeann’s Pick: Kelly Willis and Wylie Gustafson

A search of my iTunes indicates that I like many versions of this song, but the one that stands out the most to me is from a compilation called Christmas Trail by Wylie Gustafson and Kelly Willis. The mix of rootsy production, Willis’ twang and Gustafson’s Orbison-like harmony is impossible to resist.






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Twelve Songs of Christmas: Day Four

December 18, 2011 Leeann Ward 4






Song #4: White Christmas

Sam’s Pick: Garth Brooks – For the ultimate version of this song, it’s hard to go wrong with Bing Crosby. But Garth’s jazzy, laid-back take on “White Christmas” is pretty excellent too. Fun fact: This song loses a lot of its charm once you’ve spent a Christmas night with your heart in your throat driving home after a blizzard but before the salt trucks have come out.






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Twelve Songs of Christmas: Day Three

December 17, 2011 Sam Gazdziak 2






Song #3: Jingle Bells

Leeann’s Pick: Raul Malo

This fiery version does what this song is meant to do; it puts me in a festive mood. I love the jaunty, jazzy production and Malo leans into the song as intensely as he does any song that he sings.






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Twelve Songs of Christmas: Day Two

December 16, 2011 Leeann Ward 6






Song #2: O Come Emmanuel

Sam’s Pick: Sugarland

When they’re not focusing on steampunk imagery and incorporating reggae interludes into their songs, Sugarland can make some quite nice music, as evidenced by this track from its Gold and Green album. Jennifer Nettles’ and Kristian Bush’s voices blend well together, particularly on a folky, banjo-driven track like this one.






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Twelve Songs of Christmas: Day One

December 15, 2011 Sam Gazdziak 8






Along with all the other traditions that come with Christmas time – watching your favorite TV specials, getting together with family on Christmas Day, wondering how you ever lived without a pre-lit Christmas tree – one of the best ones involves breaking out the collection of Christmas music.

As a kid, it meant that the Bing Crosby and The Chipmunks Christmas albums make their way out of the buffet draw and take up a month-long residence on my mom’s stereo. Now, it means flipping over to my Christmas songs playlist on iTunes, where Patty Loveless, Dwight Yoakam and The Chieftains all are a part of the family’s Christmas soundtrack.






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