Other Christmas Music
by the other theo
In addition to my recent rediscovery of the Robert Shaw Chorale, I’ve added substantially to my collection of Starbucks Christmas CDs this year.
I first encountered the anthology CDs of Christmas music that Starbucks sells in 1999 through someone I dated briefly. I didn’t have much in the way of Christmas music in my collection at the time except the Vince Guaraldi soundtrack for Charlie Brown and a Christmas album by Harry Connick Jr. A Merry Affair: Starbucks Swinging Songs of Red Velvet and Mistletoe Kisses was a nice compilation of jazzy carols by the likes of Diana Krall, Ella Fitzgerald, Dave Brubeck and Gerry Mulligan, Charlie Hunter, and others that complimented my existing collection nicely.
Thinking it was a one off, I treasured the CD every December for several years but never bothered to think that there might be more. That changed in 2007 when I spotted Stockings By The Fire. Seeing a similar formula to my 1999 purchase, I snapped that one up and the CD issued every year since.
I didn’t get the CDs for 1998 and 2001-2006 until this year. Nearly all of them were available used online for 1 cent plus shipping. That was a deal too good to pass up. I haven’t gotten the 2000 CD yet because it took a while to track down the title: Hear Music Volume 3: Holly Days and Mistletoe Nights.
Now that I can look back on nearly 17 years of holiday music, certain trends become apparent. Until I can find something older, it looks like A Merry Affair set the pattern that was used for most of a decade. Starbucks’ Hi-Fidelity Holiday from 1998 is an oddly eclectic collection with tunes by Esquivel, Robbie Robertson, ‘Keb Mo, The Alarm, and Combustible Edison as well as a few by Dean Martin, Peggy Lee, and Bobby Darin. With the exception of seven complementary tracks from the Cocteau Twins, the Beach Boys, Barbra Streisand, Sarah McLachlan, and Aimee Mann, the jazz/traditional vocalist-dominant approach lasted through at least the following seven CDs. That started to change around to 2007 with the inclusion of tracks by Hem, Jack Johnson, Rufus Wainwright, A Fine Frenzy, and John Legend. The following year saw tracks by KT Tunstall, Goldfrapp, and Beth Orton. Making Merry in 2009 largely returned to the older formula for one year, but the lead off of John Lennon’s Happy Xmas next year stepped away again and stayed there through 2013.
Starbucks changed the formula entirely for 2014. The anthology this year, Merry & Bright, is a collection of songs all produced by David Foster. Some of the names like Andrea Bocelli have appeared on previous compilations, but this probably is the first CD since 1999 that doesn’t feature a track sung by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, or Bing Crosby.