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Christmas Music

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33 Segments




A Rockin' Christmas Album.

Rock Critic Ken Tucker will review "A Very Special Christmas," the new charity record that features The Pretenders, U2, Bruce Springsteen and John Cougar Mellencamp.


Christmas Rock Records and Songs.

Rock Critic Ken Tucker continues his review of new recordings with a Christmas theme. His survey begins with the punk band The Ramones and ends with Prince.


Rock's History of Holiday Music

Rock historian Ed Ward says that, despite their rebellious spirit, rock musicians have long been recording Christmas songs. He emembers some classic and oddball examples.


A Cool Yule with Black Musicians.

Rock historian Ed Ward plays a retrospective of Santa Claus songs by black popular musicians from Charles Brown singing "Merry Christmas, Baby" in the 1940's to James Brown's "Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto" in the 1960's. Also features songs from: the Pilgrim Travelers, Roy Milton, Oscar McLollie and His Honey Jumpers, the Voices, the Marquees (not the Stax group), andClyde Lasley.


A History of Christmas Schlock

Rock historian Ed Ward plays some of the worst in Christmas music. He says it's almost enough to make him convert to another religion.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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