From The Desk Of The Kellys: Favorite Christmas Music

Whenever Jeff Kelly takes a break from piloting Seattle’s Green Pajamas on their world tour of uncharted psych/pop waters, he likes to collaborate vocally with a woman. Until now that person has been GPJ alternate lead singer Laura Weller in a partnership called Goblin Market. Kelly didn’t have to venture far from the home fires for his most recent female vocal foil. With his wife Susanne as an equal partner, the pair has come up with By Reckless Moonlight (Green Monkey), a little gem that visits places no Jeff Kelly LP has been before. Susanne may insist she’s not really a singer, but her voice knows just the right moves to counterbalance Jeff’s ethereal sound from a previous lifetime. The Kellys will be guest editing all week. Read our recent feature on them.


Jeff: At our house music on the stereo is nearly constant. By now, it’s Christmas music all the time. I’m one of the guys who still likes the traditional CD and album art and, hence, I’ve acquired a large collection of Xmas LPs and CDs over the years. I’m proud of the fact, for instance, that I have Peggy Lee’s and Frank Sinatra’s Capitol album CDs with the original titles and artwork: A Christmas Carousel and A Jolly Christmas, respectively. Over the years, I’ve sniffed out a lot of stuff you won’t find in a Target Sunday advertisement. It’s a lot easier to do in these days of the internet. I’m just now listening to Navidad En Espanol: Villancicos Of Traditional Latin America by the Harmonies Hispanic Choir Of Our Lady Of The Angels Cathedral. And it’s quite good!

Here are a few favorite albums from over the years:

Christmas At Chateau Ste. Michelle by the Northwest Boy Choir, the Northwest Youth Choir and the Northwest Festival Orchestra.
A truly beautiful record. Hard to find now and only available on vinyl. (I just now saw one near-mint copy for sale on eBay for $3.98.)

Praetorius: Music For Christmas, Etc. by Musica Fiata and La Capella Ducal, Roland Wilson
If one is in a “classical” mood, this is wonderful music from the 16th century, sung and played perfect, on ancient instruments.

Let It Snow: Cuddly Christmas Classics and Merry Christmas Baby: Romance And Reindeer by Various Artists
Some classic Bing and Dean songs mixed with a whole bunch of lesser known jewels like “The Merriest” by June Christy, “I’d Like You For Christmas” by Julie London and “Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer” by Lena Horne. And the original and best version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” by Johnny Mercer and Margaret Whiting. Interestingly there is no Sinatra. If you have a CD changer, it’s best to augment these CDs with his Capitol album, A Jolly Christmas.

Holiday Music From The Heart by the Northwest Girlchoir
Bought it on a whim off the counter of Bartel Drugs many years ago now, and it got me hooked forever on children’s choir music. About a year later, my daughter, Tess, was born and later went on to sing with the NW Girlchoir, a fact of which I was very proud. There are other similar releases worth having by the Portland Symphonic Girlchoir (Just For The Joy Of It) and The San Francisco Girls Choir (Christmas). P.S. Don’t confuse The Northwest Girlchoir with the Seattle Girls’ Choir, whose Christmas CD left me a little cold.

A Charlie Brown Christmas by the Vince Guaraldi Trio
Vince Guaraldi was the perfect pick to score this, wasn’t he? Man. I can’t imagine the TV show without this music. It couldn’t exist without this music. Parts joy and melancholy, part warmth, part winter cold. This CD exudes a quiet genius.

There are tons of other favorites of course, including Mistletoe & Wine by Mediaeval Baebes (which had my punk-rock brother-in-law commenting, “This is great; I could totally fucking see getting high and just cranking this!”), Christmas Classics by Bing Crosby (which has so many … umm … classic recordings that bring me back to being nine years old), “Merry Christmas” by Andy Williams (same comment as with Bing’s) and the beautiful, cozy Home For Christmas by Anne Sofie Von Otter. Oh, and I just got A Feast Of Songs: Holiday Music From The Middle Age by Barry And Beth Hall in the mail today and it’s fantastic! OK. I’ll stop there.

Video after the jump.