Each year, I compile a December playlist of seasonal favorites with an unexpected discovery or two. To hear the complete 2022 edition of Apple Music playlist, click here.
Mercy Mercy Mercy Me performed by Marvin Gaye
Originally released in 1971, Marvin Gaye's What's Going On album is as moving and relevant today as it was 50+ years ago. One of my 10 'desert island' album selections.
Zan Bezan by Liraz Charni
Israeli-Iranian singer Liraz recorded this song in Turkey with four Iranian musicians. These musicians performed in secrecy to avoid government prosecution. The song, in was heard at the recent protests for Iranian women's rights. What a powerful example of how the arts can break through borders. Here's translation from Farsi,
I want to sing it out loud To shout it from inside
Uprooted and empty, asleep and awake When I sing I dream of Tehran My arrows stand steady and aimed As the lashes of my eyes To fire for our freedom
Woman, give it on the head Women, sing it You’re allowed to dance You’re allowed to sing You’re allowed to rejoice
We are women Gordafaries (the heroine of a Persian epic poem and symbol of courage).
Together we’ll make a revolution Until when will we be quiet Until when will we lower our heads Until when will we bend our knees Until where?
Compared to What performed by Les McCann and Eddie Harris
This 1969 live recording was one of the first jazz albums I owned.
Someday at Christmas performed by Stevie Wonder
Stevie was just 17 when he released his Christmas album in 1967. This is 5 years before Music of My Mind and his development as a songwriter and producer. Also, in 1972, I saw him open for the Rolling Stones at the old Boston Garden on the night that Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were arrested at the Providence airport.
Take Me to the Alley by Gregory Porter
This album won the 2017 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album.
Keep Changing the World by MIKESCHAIR
This may be the first Contemporary Christian music I've ever included.
Love is Everywhere by Wilco
Since Wilco is my favorite contemporary band, I feel it is my duty as a fan to include them. It's also a great song.
Looks Like a Cold, Cold Winter performed by Ingrid Michaelson
This song is an unusual shift in style for this singer/songwriter who also happened to play Sonya in the Broadway production of Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812.
Winter Wonderland performed by Aretha Franklin
Written in 1934 by Felix Bernard and Richard Smith, this song has been covered by everyone from Johnny Mathis to Darlene Love. It sounds to me that Aretha was having fun singing it.
Let it Snow, Let it Snow performed by Ella Fitzgerald
Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne wrote this during a 1945 California heatwave. The great Ella Fitzgerald made it swing on her 1960 album Wishing You A Swinging Christmas album.
Valley Winter Song by Fountains of Wayne
Having moved to Northampton in May, I feel it is my civic duty to include this tune about the Pioneer Valley by Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingsworth who met at Williams College.
Sing it Now, SIng it Somehow by The Flaming Lips
This song was written for the 2019 Verve Forecast Hanukkah + anthology featuring Haim, Yo La Tenga, Jack Black, and others.
A La Luz de la Vela performed by Yasmin Levy with Erran Baron Cohen
Here's a translation of this Ladino Hanukkah song.
Light one candle for the Maccabee children With thanks that their light didn't die Light one candle for the pain they endured When their right to exist was denied Light one candle for the terrible sacrifice Justice and freedom demand But light one candle for the wisdom to know When the peacemaker's time is at hand CHORUS: Don't let the light go out! It's lasted for so many years! Don't let the light go out! Let it shine through our love and our tears. Light one candle for the strength that we need To never become our own foe And light one candle for those who are suffering Pain we learned so long ago Light one candle for all we believe in That anger not tear us apart And light one candle to find us together With peace as the song in our hearts What is the memory that's valued so highly That we keep it alive in that flame? What's the commitment to those who have died That we cry out they've not died in vain? We have come this far always believing That justice would somehow prevail This is the burden, this is the promise This is why we will not fail! Don't let the light go out! Don't let the light go out! Don't let the light go out!
Rock of Ages/Ma'oz Tzur performed by Marc Cohen
Isn't it amazing that a song written in the 13th century can still be relevant today? It seems there are always despots and tyrants who need to be defeated.
White Winter Hymnal performed by Fleet Foxes
Describing "the pack all swallowed in their coats," this song just feels like winter to me.