A Writer’s Holiday Playlist for 2015

Turmoil across the globe, political craziness here in the U.S.A.– 2015 hasn’t been conducive to maintaining a holiday spirit. We are having to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps to ensure our positivity. It hasn’t been an easy year for getting in a festive mood.

I’ve thrown myself into holiday music to remedy the situation. Okay, I’ve also turned to less-than-stellar Hallmark Channel and ABC Family Christmas movies, but we all have our own private shame. No other time of year do I watch this type of television. Repetitive plots, disappointing anti-climactic finales, what’s not to draw a viewer whose only alternative is violence-heavy news media? As a writer, I have no excuse for watching them. As a viewer, I’m running low on cheery programming.

So, back to the music. I’ve made a list of holiday songs that are not the repetitive traditional versions. There may be a song or two you haven’t heard, but I think they are fitting considering the world climate.  Take note: If you are all about traditional Christmas music, some— or all— songs on this list might not be for you. I happen to enjoy traditional tunes with a gritty edge. Topped with attitude.

1. Please Come Home for Christmas– B.B. King.  So good. Realize, I’m easing you in.

2. Soul Cake by Sting. This version is live from Durham Cathedral in 2009. I prefer Sting singing this live, as he did during the Rockefellar Tree Lighting this year. Did you noticed he is looking more and more like the Most Interesting Man in the World. What do you think (see first video)? For better quality sound, listen here.

3. I Saw Three Ships by the cast of Les Miserables. Like the latter rendition of Soul Cake, this was from Broadway’s Carols for a Cure Vol. 16, 2014. Because sometimes you don’t want to give up your Broadway just because it’s December.

4. River– It is not the season until I hear this song. I’ve always been a sucker for the Robert Downey Jr. version stemming from my Ally McBeal days, but I saw this singsong rendition by Flyte on Facebook yesterday and it’s pretty awesome.

5. This one is just cheery- Twinkling Lights by Office Romance. Get your smile on.

6. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Coldplay is a good way to put a twist on the traditional.  Okay, I know it’s not Frank or Judy, but we’re trying to switch things up!

7. Christmas in LA by The Killers. Bonus: Owen Wilson is in the video. Double bonus: Part of it is a cartoon.

8. The Killers make a new Christmas song every year for Product RED to bring awareness and help fight/cure AIDS and HIV in Africa. This deserves a second song. Here is A Great Big Sled featuring Toni Halliday. And because the refrain is awesome.

9. The New Year by Death Cab For Cutie. My husband’s favorite holiday song. Smile.

10. My new favorite: Christmas Lights by Coldplay. How did I not know this gem, released in 2012, existed? Love it.

When all else fails, pick your favorite genre to read or write and see if Pandora has a holiday channel for you. That’s how I discovered the Celtic Holidays Radio station– perfect listening music for my novel writing. Hey, it could have been worse. This could have been my top ten Hallmark holiday movie list.


  1. One of my all time favorites is “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” by Mannheim Steamroller:

    And for a another great version of “I Saw Three Ships” try this one:

  2. Nice! Mannheim is always good too- I was just going for a more obscure list. 🙂 I hadn’t heard that version of I Saw Three Ships.

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