If I have to put a holiday album in the casket with me and all the other records, there are really only three choices worth storing. They would be, of course, the first edition of A Very Special Christmas (the one with Run-D.M.C.’s “Christmas in Hollis”)
I could also have included A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector (also known as Phil Spector’s Christmas Album), just because of the sheer beauty of the Ronettes and the Crystals and all of Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound” production values.
But if I want something that’s peaceful and tranquil and a celebration of the holiday season, then I want to listen to George Winston’s seminal piano classic December (available through iTunes by clicking on the link).
I first heard December in my sophomore year at Hamilton College; our college radio station had acquired a copy of it and some of the jazz DJ’s were giving it a spin. I immediately fell in love with Winston’s compositions and interpretations of holiday classics, and the next time I went to Sangertown Square (and the Camelot Music record store in the mall), I purchased a copy for my own personal use.
I purchased some other Windham Hall recordings over time, but none of them matched up to the sheer peace and calmness of this album. I eventually purchased some other George Winston CD’s, discs like Linus and Lucy – The Music of Vince Guaraldi, and Night Divides the Day – The Music of the Doors. But it’s December that still holds a place in my heart. Even when the holiday season comes and goes, and I’m all by myself in my room, feeling like the holiday spirit has left me completely, I can still pop this into the CD player and feel – if not completely healed – at least in less pain.
Here’s some examples of tracks from George Winston’s December, and I hope you enjoy listening to them.
This is his interpretation of Johann Pachalbel’s “Canon of the Bells.”
The opening track, “Thanksgiving.”
Another beautiful interpretation, this one of the Christmas classic “The Holly and the Ivy.”
December was recently reissued by Dancing Cat Records, and contains two bonus tracks. Definitely an album worth listening to on a cold winter morning.
George Winston’s December was one of my favorite albums way back when! In fact,I forgot all about it until this post…thanks, Chuck. I’m going to have to get myself the CD.
It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to that CD..it had been one of my favorites, too. I remember that Christmas.. I received 3 copies of that CD!
I know exactly where it is.. thanks for the reminder!
My all time favorite Christmas CD is/has been ‘Christmas’ by Manheim Steamroller. I first heard it in…the 80’s, and the renditions still bring me to tears. I’ve already told my husband that I want several of those selections played at my funeral.. what ever time of year it is. Those pieces just speak to my soul.
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