If I got stuck on a deserted island just for the month of December, I'd bring with me the top five Christmas records to keep my holiday spirits high. I'd start with the hands-down classic: & & MERRY CHRISTMAS & & by & & BING CROSBY & & & . Not only does Spokane's favorite crooner give you the standards you need, but he also throws in a couple chestnuts that can't be missed: "Mele Kalikimaka" and "Christmas in Killarney." Also, the Andrews Sisters add a little kick to Bing's holiday nog. In a close second, you've got to have & & NAT KING COLE'S THE CHRISTMAS SONG & & . Nat's take on the title track (you know, "Chestnuts roasting on...") is a showcase of his silky smooth voice, and it may be the greatest holiday recording ever.
Jazz has been a quiet little haven for great Christmas music, and pianist & & VINCE GUARALDI'S A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS SOUNDTRACK & & provides deep, moody background music to meditate on the reason for the season. For a more traditional collection, I'd bring & & JINGLE BELL JAM: JAZZ CHRISTMAS CLASSICS & & , a compilation put together by Rhino Records back in 1994. Its 18 tracks cover the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and Chet Baker. But the highlight here is Lou Rawls' take on "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" -- the very best Christmas song of them all.
Finally, I'd have to have A & & CHRISTMAS TOGETHER & & by & & JOHN DENVER AND THE MUPPETS & & . I'm not kidding. Although a bit too silly at times, this little gem is surprisingly touching. Happy holidays!