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  • Tom H

SoundThread's Christmas Song Highlights

For the past several years, I've put together the SoundThread Music Blog Winter & Holiday Tunes Spotify playlist, updating the tracklist each year as I discover new Christmas, holiday and winter-themed songs. Currently running at approximately seven hours (!) worth of collected tunes, that's enough to accompany most people on a long drive to their holiday destinations.

The overall theme of the Winter & Holiday Tunes playlist has always been to cast the spotlight on new and original songwriting, as well as unique, modern takes on classics. Before this holiday season comes to a close, I decided that a post that highlights a few of my favorite Winter & Holiday Tunes playlist tracks might be fun. Give these six songs a listen before the snow melts and your holiday gifts are unwrapped!

SYML | God I Hope This Year Is Better Than The Last

I've placed this gorgeous original song from SYML at the start of the Winter & Holiday Tunes playlist for the past few years. "God I Hope This Year Is Better Than the Last" is serene and atmospheric with SYML's mesmerizing vocals narrating a theme of hope and optimisim - a song that still feels fitting with each passing year. This is one for a quiet New Year's Eve or a calm New Year's morning.

"I get tired around this time

I blame it on the cold daylight

Bring your arms around me fast

Warm my bones and fill my glass

God, I hope this year is better than the last"

AWALK | Jingle Bells

Los Angeles musician and producer AWALK unveils his fresh and unique take on the classic "Jingle Bells." The overall musical feel is crisp, rock-inspired and modern, with a variation on the classic melody and lyrics, along with a few musical twists and turns. Skip to 1:30 for the first uplifting piano-predominant interlude, then to 2:00 where you'd think you were listening to a long lost Depeche Mode track from the Music for the Masses era. AWALK's take on "Jingle Bells" is an authentic, kicking Christmas keeper!

Lord Huron | Frozen Pines

Taken from their 2015 album, Strange Trails, Lord Huron's "Frozen Pines" reflects on friends and loved ones who have passed on to the "other side of the frozen pines." Upbeat, melodic and atmospheric, this class Lord Huron track also recently inspired a limited edition "Frozen Pines" Christmas sweater. For an even more atmospheric take on the track, watch the Alive From Whispering Pines live version of this song (video at the top of this segment).

"I will be waiting for you

on the other side of the frozen pines

I'm gonna find a way through

There's another life beyond the line"

Common Jack | The Christmas Tree Is Fake

The heartwarming Christmas song, "The Christmas Tree Is Fake," from Brooklyn indie-folk singer-songwriter Common Jack (aka John Gardner) is one of my all-time favorite modern, original holiday songs. Fingerstyle acoustic guitar and John's soft, expressive vocals nostalgically recount childhood memories of Christmas, fake trees and melancholy carols. This is songwriting and storytelling at its finest.

"Every holiday leaves me blue

But that's okay

It's the melancholy carols

that make me happy anyway

Beneath a plastic tree

Ornaments and tinsel string"

ABBA | Little Things

Until a year ago, the only holiday song in ABBA's catalog was their 1980 single, "Happy New Year" - still a classic in many ways, minus its hard-coded "what lies waiting down the line in the end of '89" lyric. The foursome's 2021 Voyage album, their first new material in 40 years, gifted the world a new Christmas track in the form of "Little Things," with its simple, heartfelt lyrical theme that reminisces on lovely Christmas mornings, children opening presents, and Christmas stockings full of nice little things.

Rocky Paterra | Jesus' Blood is the Red Part of Your Candy Cane

If you're looking for a truly original, humorous, never-heard-that-in-a-Christmas-song tune, then Pittsburgh-raised, NYC-based actor and musician Rocky Paterra's "Jesus' Blood is the Red Part of Your Candy Cane" clearly takes home the prize. Reminiscing on his Catholic school upbringing that weighed heavily on religious ceremony and the symbolism of Jesus' blood, this upbeat, catchy number will have you snapping your fingers and humming along in no time flat. There's a hilarious spoken word segment in the middle (1:18) of the track where school child Rocky poses challenging questions about the candy canes to one of his teachers at Saint Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin school before being shushed. This is definitely a fun one to add to your holiday playlists!

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