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05:42

Tracey Thorn: 'Secular Carols' For The Holidays.

Thorn has recorded a holiday album, Tinsel and Lights, that critic Ken Tucker says might just work for warmer weather, as well. Tucker praises Thorn's voice as "bolstered by a firm intelligence," and says she avoids the fatty treacle that often weighs down Christmas albums.

Review
20:41

Remembering 'Christmas' Songwriter Hugh Martin

Songwriter Hugh Martin, who co-wrote the classic song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" for Judy Garland's 1944 movie, Meet Me in St. Louis died on Friday. He was 96. Fresh Air remembers Martin with highlights from a 1989 interview.

Obituary
08:22

Ken Tucker Picks The Best Holiday Music Of 2010

Every holiday season brings a new batch of seasonal pop music, some of it from unlikely or obscure sources. Rock critic Ken Tucker has listened to most of the new holiday collections released this year, and has chosen three albums that ought to make your season a bit more festive.

Review
06:31

Holiday Cheer With A Jazz Twist.

Two kinds of people consume Christmas music: those who actually like the stuff, and folks who need something listenable on hand in case seasonal visitors insist on some ornamental mood music. For both groups, two new jazz brass albums should do the trick. Critic Kevin Whitehead reviews.

Review
05:56

Is Dylan's Heart Really In This 'Christmas'?

The news that Bob Dylan was making a Christmas album came as a surprise. Now that Christmas In The Heart has been released, with the announcement that all profits will go to charity, it's caused even more consternation, with commentators divided as to whether it's an earnest effort or one big put-down. Rock critic Ken Tucker offers his opinion.

Review
05:31

Christmas Music with a Critic's OK

With 13 days still to go, some listeners might be crying "Enough!" (already) when the carols play. For them, Fresh Air's resident rock critic offers up two Christmas albums that might help make the holiday chestnuts seem fresh again: It's Christmas, Of Course, from Darlene Love, and Raul Malo's Marshmallow World and Other Holiday Favorites.

Review
12:33

Songwriter Hugh Martin

Along with Ralph Blaine, Hugh Martin wrote "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." The song was made famous in the 1944 film Meet Me in St. Louis, but since then, many different versions have been recorded with changes in lyrics. Martin also wrote music for Broadway productions including Best Foot Forward, Look Ma, I'm Dancin' and the stage version of Meet Me in St. Louis. Martin is 94.

Interview
42:00

Catchy and Rare: 'A John Waters Christmas'

Director John Waters, known for making art from sleaze, has a new CD for the season, A John Waters Christmas. It includes such songs as "Here Comes Fatty Claus," "Little Mary Christmas," and "Santa Claus is a Black Man." Waters was once crowned the "Pope of Trash" by William Burroughs.

Interview
14:03

Steven Van Zandt's 'Christmas' Soundtrack

Apart from being the guitarist for Bruce Springsteen and playing mob guy Silvio on The Sopranos, Steven Van Zandt is also a radio DJ. We talk with Van Zandt about creating the music for the new movie Christmas with the Kranks.

Interview
08:13

The Beatles' Puzzling Christmas Records

Rock historian Ed Ward tells us about a series of Christmas singles the Beatles made in the 60s. If you were a member of their fan club, you got one each year.

Commentary
51:31

A Christmas Concert with the Ben Vaughn Combo

Rock musician Vaughn as been a cult staple for years in the Philadelphia/New Jersey area, where he's become known for his tongue-in-cheek lyrics and tunes that draw from rocks early influences. He'll perform some of his favorite Christmas songs with bandmates Gus Cordovox on accordion and Aldo Jones on bass. Afterward, he'll talk with Terry about his famous rock and roll holiday records.

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