The Feeling Begins

Frank Sinatra - A Jolly Christmas

I'm big on traditions, and during the holidays I have roughly a thousand of them. One of them is that the first holiday album I listen to every year is A Jolly Christmas From Frank Sinatra. Once I get home from Thanksgiving dinner and start winding down for the day, I put this CD on, and that for me is the moment when the Christmas season officially begins. It's not just my favorite Christmas album, it is one of my favorite albums period.

The first time I bought it was a budget eight song cassette version in the early 90s. It quickly became one of my favorite soundtracks for driving around at night looking at Christmas lights. It just seemed to sound like everything I love about the season. A couple years later I found out that the actual album was six songs longer, and I upgraded to the CD.

The title really doesn't fit, because apart from the first track, a bouncy arrangement of "Jingle Bells," I really wouldn't call the album "jolly." Accompanied by a mostly string orchestra and choir, the album is a fairly mellow affair. But the arrangements (by Gordon Jenkins) are absolutely beautiful, and Sinatra was at the top of his game vocally throughout the 50s. In its LP form, it was split into two distinct sides. The first half is all what were in 1957 contemporary holiday tunes, and the second half is comprised of traditional Christmas hymns. The CD is rounded out by two Nelson Riddle arranged songs from a 1954 single.

For the MP3, I picked what is hands down my favorite song on the album. It's actually my third favorite song ever (behind "Hotel Womb" by The Church and "God Only Knows" by The Beach Boys). There is something about the way he says "Merry Christmas" at the end that just hits me. I'm pretty sure it's that exact moment that set me on the path to becoming a huge Frank Sinatra fan.

Frank Sinatra - "The Christmas Waltz" (mp3)

"It's that time of year when the world falls in love,
Every song you hear seems to say 'Merry Christmas,
May your every New Year dreams come true.'
And this song of mine, in three quarter time,
Wishes you and yours the same thing too."

post title by Peter Gabriel

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