Essay / Art

Christmas Playlist 2014: Monophonic

monophonic christmasSo much Christmas music is an overproduced mess. This year for our annual Christmas mix we decided to cleanse the palate by finding a set of songs at the other end of the production spectrum.

We’ve got buzzing, droning, hissing and popping.  We’ve got yowling backup singers that ought to be on a different layer of the track, except there is no different layer of the track to put them on. We’ve got percussion that makes no sense. There are toy pianos. Some high notes that exceed the recording equipment’s capabilities and make the speaker sound all mashy. There’s one performance that sounds like maybe a first take before they finished writing the song.

But we’ve also got some great performances, some natural musicians, and some solid songwriting. If your ears need a diet from the over-saturated, over-sweetened mess of holiday music, try some of these. (And for previous entries, try our 2013, 2012, older, and even older lists)

Stream the playlist at Rdio here (Thanks to Ted Olson for putting that together!) Or sample them and buy the tracks here:

Christ was Born on Christmas Morn –Cotton Top Mountain Sanctified Singers
Santa Is On His Way –Bob Wills
Children Go Where I Send Thee –The Victory Five
A Child is Born –The Angelic Gospel Singers
Christmas is A-Coming –Lead Belly
Jesus Had a Manger for his Bed –Dixon Brothers
Savoy Christmas Medley –The New Mayfair Orchestra
The Savior is Born –The Staple Singers
When Jesus Was Born –Sons of Heaven
Ida (Sweet as Apple Cider) –W. Lee O’Daniel & his Hillbilly Boys
It’s Christmas Time –The Qualities
Cool Cool Christmas –Bobbie & Boobie
White Christmas –The Drifters
Breaking up Christmas –Norman Edmonds
Holiday in Havana –Desi Arnaz
The Skaters Waltz –Bob Crosby & His Orchestra
A Mother, A Father, A Baby –Dixon Brothers
Snowy Morning Blues –James P. Johnson
Christmas Time Will Soon Be Over –Fiddlin’ John Carson & His Virginia Rulers
Glory Glory to the King –The Ward Singers
The Christmas Song –Lead Belly
Joy to the World –The Staple Singers
Wasn’t That a Mighty Day –The Staple Singers


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