Lankford, Ronnie

Guest post by Ronald D. Lankford Jr.

Happy holidays! With Christmas just one week away, it’s time to crank up the holiday tunes. Need some suggestions? From silly to sad and from bouncy to blue, here are five favorites I’m looking forward to this year.


  1. Buck Owens, “Blue Christmas Lights”

What could be sadder than being dumped right before Christmas? Putting blue lights on a blue Christmas tree . . .

  1. Aimee Mann, “Whatever Happened to Christmas”

When romance goes wrong and the good old days fade in the rearview mirror, this song will serve as the perfect backdrop for the holiday blues.

  1. Huey “Piano” Smith, “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”

With Smith and his rowdy friends, Clement Moore’s jolly old elf turns into the boogie woogie Santa Claus. Outrageous and danceable.

  1. Faron Young, “I’m Gonna Tell Santa Claus on You”

So what do you do when your girl breaks your heart at Christmas time? Threaten to tell Santa Claus on her . . .  unless she promises to come back!

  1. Eric Cartman, “O Holy Night”

South Park’s Cartman should’ve never been allowed to sing a carol, which is probably why I like this one so much.


Find more of Ronnie Lankford’s favorite holiday songs in his book, Sleigh Rides, Jingle Bells, and Silent Nights: A Cultural History of American Christmas Songs. This book surveys more than seventy-five years of songs and reveals that the “modern American Christmas” has carried many different meanings. Interpreting tunes against the backdrop of the eras in which they were first released, Lankford points out the repeated themes of nostalgia, commerce, holiday blues, carnival, and travesty that underscore so much beloved music.


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