THE ULTIMATE CHRISTMAS CD.

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As you might have noticed, I decided to forgo my plan to post a daily Christmas song, as I thought that it would look bad for one of my blog's first contributions to The Prospect to be a lawsuit from the RIAA. The 17 robed web editors who control my days and haunt my dreams would not like that. And I live to avoid their displeasure. But there's no reason you can't make this Christmas CD on your own. But first, a word on sequencing and song choice.

I'm not going to argue that the following playlist represents the very best that the Christmas music genre has to offer (though, in places, it does; if you've never heard Ray Charles and Betty Carter perform "Baby, It's Cold Outside," something has gone terribly wrong for you). But the songs on here are either classics themselves, or admiring, respectful, skillful updates of the classics. The CD builds from the most evocative -- numbers that many will remember from childhood holidays spent huddled around the television -- to the most sonically impressive (the remixes), and ends with Ray Charles, whose renditions are, to my ear, the most achingly beautiful of any artist to enter the genre. I was surprised, when I put this together, to hear that it worked better if I drew from a relatively small number of CDs and grouped most of their offerings together, but that proved to be the best way to sustain the music's mood. In any case, enjoy:

1. The Christmas Song, by Vince Guaraldi on A Charlie Brown Christmas.
2. What Child is This, by Vince Guaraldi, on A Charlie Brown Christmas.
3. My Favorite Things, by Brian Setzer, on Dig That Crazy Christmas (you may not think that this works, but it does.).
4. Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! by Dean Martin, on Christmas With the Rat Pack.
5. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, by Dean Martin, on Christmas With the Rat Pack.
6. Santa Claus Got Stuck in My Chimney, by Ella Fitzgerald, off Christmas Stars.
7. Happy Holidays (Beef Wellington Remix), by Bing Crosby, off Christmas Remixed.
8. I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm (Stuhr Remix), by Kay Starr, off Christmas Remixed.
9. The First Noel (Attaboy House Party Mix), by Bing Crosby, off Christmas Remixed.
10. You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch, by Brian Setzer, off Dig That Crazy Christmas.
11. Baby It's Cold Outside, by Ray Charles and Better Carter, off The Spirit of Christmas.
12. The Little Drummer Boy, by Ray Charles, off The Spirit of Christmas.

Image used under a Creative Commons license from Flickr user Joseph DeAngelo.

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