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.
Leeann’s Pick: Bing Crosby
I’ve searched high and low for a superior version, but no one can top the ultimate version of “White Christmas”. It’s beautiful, it’s calming and it’s perfect.
Jonathan Keefe: Lari White
One of the reasons I’m not crazy about Christmas music is that so much of it ends up produced in the same vanilla, tasteful-to-a-fault kind of soft rock manner, and White’s rendition does have that problem. Fortunately, it does get points for a prominent steel guitar line and for having an over-the-top, campy choir kick in during the second verse.
But, more importantly, it’s also a showcase for White’s incomparable voice: In terms of power, range, control, and richness of tone, she’s easily one of the finest singers country music has ever been lucky enough to claim. The catastrophically poor taste of the “Wild at Heart” video pretty well killed her career, but her version of this holiday standard does still score her some seasonal recurrent airplay.
One of my favorite features to write for Country Universe is Favorite Songs by Favorite Artists. So, since I love Christmas music, it seems natural that I change the format a bit to accommodate a list of my favorite Christmas songs.
Narrowing my favorite Christmas songs down to twenty-five choices proved to be a nearly impossible challenge. In order to accomplish this feat, I had to do two things: (1) disqualify all quintessential versions of classics, i.e., Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” or any songs by Gene Autry. Instead, I’ve stuck to modern country versions of any classics that may appear on this list. (2) Limit the number of classics included on this list so that there can be room for as many original Christmas songs as possible.
You can listen to most of the songs and purchase them through the Amazon link at the end. Merry Christmas!
Asleep At The Wheel, “Christmas in Jail”
Merry Texas Christmas, Y’All, 1997
Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel have a fun time with “Christmas In Jail.” The lesson he learns?: “Ain’t going to drink and drive no more.” Good!
Roger Miller, “Old Toy Trains”
King Of The Road: The Genius of Roger Miller, 1995
I first heard this song as a little girl on a Raffi Christmas album, long before I had any idea of who Roger Miller was. So, after I discovered country music and Roger Miller, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this familiar song was actually written by Roger Miller for his son Dean. In this sweet and irresistible ditty, Miller is trying to coax his little boy to go to bed despite the excitement of Christmas
Clint Black, “Til’ Santa’s Gone (Milk And Cookies)”
Looking For Christmas, 1995
This is sung from the perspective of a five-year-old who is getting ready for Santa’s impending visit. He knows what brings Santa back every year. Milk and cookies, of course!