Classic Rock And Pop Music Blog

Tag: christmas music

Stairway To Heaven & The Wrong Side Of Heaven – “Heaven” songs, with bonus A Child’s Christmas

On December 4, 1971, Led Zeppelin started a 2 week run at No.1 on the UK chart with “Led Zeppelin IV.”  The album, featuring “Stairway to Heaven” stayed on the US chart for 5 years, selling over 23 million copies in the US alone.  In tribute to this album and song, this week’s playlist is dedicated to songs featuring the word Heaven in their title. 

If you never caught Heart’s tribute to Led Zeppelin and “Stairway To Heaven” at The Kennedy Center Honors, give it a watch.  It is very moving to see Robert Plant tear up sitting next to his mates Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, with John Bonham’s son Jason on drums and Ann Wilson on vocals, her sister Nancy on guitar, with a choir backing.  Just spectacular.

“Stairway To HEAVEN” includes the iconic Zep song, but many other heavenly heaven songs as well.  Who can forget my opener, Bryan Adams “Heaven” played at every high school dance?  The Psychedelic Furs, Warrant, and Los Lonely Boys also with great songs of the same name.  While Meat Loaf feels heaven can wait, Belinda Carlisle sings of heaven as a place on earth, and poor Bruno Mars is locked out of heaven.  The playlist gets a little edgy, with Guns N’ Roses knockin’ on heaven’s door, and the appearance of some less common artists for my playlists, including some grunge, with Temple of the Dog and Alice In Chains.  My follow-up playlist, “The Wrong Side Of HEAVEN,” as there were just too many songs for one, is a B-list, of sorts, with less popular heaven songs.  It includes even more grunge and alternative rock with 3 Doors Down, My Chemical Romance, Audioslave, Marilyn Manson, Five Finger Death Punch, and Theory Of A Deadman and some hard rock/metal with Def Leppard, Kiss, and Black Sabbath.  I have yet to refine and organize the second list, a work in progress – assistance, advice, and opinions are always appreciated.

I hope you enjoy these heaven songs.  And suggestions and assistance in refining the playlists are always welcome!

I realized over the past week that last week’s blog and playlists neglected to include the Christmas songs of my childhood, from Christmas cartoons, released from the mid-60’s to 70’s, which we anxiously awaited every year on TV, prior to the days of cable TV or VCRs.  We couldn’t wait to see “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Santa Claus is Coming To Town,”  “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty The Snowman,” “The Year Without A Santa Claus,” and “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.” They were magical, in part due to the charm of their artistry and musicality, but also given the elusiveness of their availability.  I included some of my favorite songs, as well as some songs from John Denver & The Muppets: A Christmas Together” and “Alvin & The Chipmunks Christmas,” the latter whose songs we heard as kids, though the movie, as well as the Muppets movie wasn’t produced until my teen years.  These songs are fun, and bring back a little of the childhood magic of Christmas. Some great video clips of these movies are presented below – alas we don’t have to be at the mercy of the once-a-year showing of major network TV schedules to watch these now.

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (1964):

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (1966):

The Year Without A Santa Claus (1974):

Frosty The Snowman (1969):

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (1970):

Alvin & The Chipmunks Christmas (Album 1959, movie 1980):

John Denver & The Muppets: A Christmas Together (1979):

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965):

So whether your wrapping Christmas gifts, traveling in the car to see the relatives for Christmas, snuggling by the fire awaiting Santa and his sleigh, or opening presents on Christmas morning, consider streaming this playlist, setting the mood, and lifting your spirits for truly the most wonderful time of the year.

Relive your childhood!  Bring back the magic of CHRISTMAS!

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas – Oldies, Pop, Amy Grant & Country Christmas Playlists

With only 4 weeks until Christmas day, I thought I’d share some Christmas playlists.  While Christian religious tradition holds that the time leading up to Christmas, known as Advent, should be a time of preparation for Christmas, and thus songs of anticipation, not songs of Christmas should be played, I feel that Christmas music does help us prepare for the coming of Christ and Christmas.  And there is a mix of religious Christmas music, as well as secular popular music, though while commercial, I feel still should put people in the mood of the season of giving, as that is what the season is all about – God’s gift to us with the birth of his Son.  May we look for ways to be gifts to each other, and gift our talents to the world and back to our Creator.  I truly love this season, and the music, along with Mass and the events at my church, to put me in the mood to receive Jesus on Christmas morning.

As a kid I grew up listening to oldies, with Johnny Mathis Christmas album prominently played from my mom’s music collection.  I also worked a job in college every December in a gift shop as a gift wrapper.  My responsibility was also to periodically change the cassettes of Christmas music playing overhead.  Among the cassettes in the Christmas collection were Frank Sinatra and Kenny Rogers, who became among my favorites.

So I’ve created 4 Christmas playlists.  The first is oldies, from Sinatra to Bing Crosby, Johnny Mathis, Nat King Cole, Burl Ives, and many others.  I think Johnny has the smoothest, sweetest voice, Bing the most traditional, Sinatra the Christmas crooner, but Nat, well he could just plain make you ooze Christmas listening to him sing.  Such great, classic Christmas music, perhaps most recently popularized by the “Home Alone” movies, though I’m realizing that those movies aren’t so recent!  Bing Crosby and David Bowie’s “Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth,” another of my Christmas favorites, again dreaming of peace on earth as our Christmas gift – can it be?

The Ultimate Christmas Oldies playlist:

The musical and visual beauty of Lindsey Stirling’s “Carol Of The Bells” makes me come back to this video year after year:

And her “Angels We Have Heard On High” is heavenly.  If you have the opportunity to see her, she’s well worth the time and effort.

And consider a Christmas gift to yourself some year, and see Trans Siberian Orchestra.  They are a spectacle not to be missed, moving and inspirational.  Perhaps their most well known Christmas song is “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo”:

The next list is pop Christmas tunes, mostly 80s performers and their holiday offerings, from Bruce Springsteen to Bon Jovi, the Eagles, Madonna, Tom Petty, Paul McCartney, and of course “Band Aid”:

The Ultimate Christmas Pop playlist:

The next playlist features perhaps my most favorite Christmas performer, Amy Grant.  I added some of her “friends”, including her longtime friend Michael W. Smith, her husband Vince Gill, and fellow Christian performing artist Steven Curtis Chapman, among others.   Amy Grant’s “Breath Of Heaven” is among my all-time Christmas song favorites, telling the Christmas story from the perspective a scared teenage girl, carrying the Savior of the world (with video clips from “The Nativity” movie):

Also on this list Becky Kelley’s “Where’s The Line To See Jesus” again reminds of the reason for the season:

As well as Amy Grant’s “Grown Up Christmas List” is a wish for the world, a materialistic society which has so much and seemingly needs so little, yet truly needs so much:

The Amy Grant & Friends Christmas playlist:

Lastly is an “unfinished” playlist that I will continue to add and subtract from, of Country Christmas songs.  It’s far from inclusive of all the best songs, but is starting with many of the artists I like, including Kenny Rogers, as mentioned above, Reba McEntire, Kellie Pickler, Carrie Underwood, Trisha Yearwood, and Martina McBride, with a smattering of other Country greats.  I love this video clip of Carrie Underwood singing with her son “The Little Drummer Boy”:

The Country Christmas playlist:

While not a song, this is one of my favorite Christmas video clips, in which Linus in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” tells Charlie and friends what Christmas is all about:

So whether your wrapping Christmas gifts, traveling in the car to see the relatives for Christmas, snuggling by the fire awaiting Santa and his sleigh, or opening presents on Christmas morning, consider streaming one of these playlists, setting the mood and lifting your spirits, for truly the most wonderful time of the year.

Prepare ye the way of the Lord!

Get ready for CHRISTMAS!

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