’Toban tracks — a holiday miracle

Or, how I learned to stop hating and embody the holiday spirit

Holiday music — the trash they pump through mall speakers from October through December as they try to hype up shoppers and passersby to buy as much garbage as they can afford. 

It is easy to be cynical about Christmas and the consumer circus that has sprung up around it, and by extension, Christmas and other holiday music, which is often insignificant schlock or cheap cash-ins from over-the-hill stars squeezing the last few bucks out of their fans.

Haven’t we all heard “Wonderful Christmastime” enough times for a lifetime? Why would anyone want to voluntarily listen to the stuff we are so often forced to hear in our commercialized public spaces?

My friends, I will make a case to you in this writing and in this playlist that there is plenty to love about holiday music. After all, isn’t the holiday season filled with emotion and imagery rich with artistic possibility? 

Most of us in the West are raised with these ideas of Christmas, of celebrating love and togetherness in the middle of the cold, cold winter, giving thoughtful gifts to each other, with all sorts of mythology and mazes of nostalgic association to dig through. This is the stuff pop music magic is made of.

So, I’ve made a playlist of some underexposed and sideways looks at the season, covering all bits of it, from Jesus to Santa to snow to familial love to lonely misery to romantic love and everywhere in between. 

I won’t even select a few standouts because I love all these songs deeply and completely, and sincerely urge everyone out there to listen and learn to love holiday music. Resist the urge to be a Scrooge, try to let go of your cynicism and embody the holiday spirit with this music.


Christmas Must Be Tonight — the Band, Islands

Christmas at the Zoo — the Flaming Lips, Clouds Taste Metallic

December Forever — Living Hour, Someday is Today

We’re Goin’ To the Country! — Sufjan Stevens, Songs For Christmas

Just Like Christmas — Low, Christmas

Child’s Christmas In Wales — John Cale, Paris 1919

I Don’t Intend to Spend Christmas Without You — Margo Guryan, 27 Demos

Twin Falls — Built To Spill, There’s Nothing Wrong With Love

Jesus Christ — Blue Rodeo, A Merrie Christmas to You

Snowsuit Sound — Sloan, Twice Removed

Listen, The Snow Is Falling — Harry Nilsson, Losst and Founnd

Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis — Tom Waits, Blue Valentine 

River — Joni Mitchell, Blue

Christmas on Earth — Marching Church, Christmas on Earth

Snow Is Falling In Manhattan — Chilly Gonzales, Jarvis Cocker and Feist, A very chilly Christmas

Christmas — The Blue Nile, Hats (Deluxe Version)


Listen to ’Toban Tracks — a holiday miracle here —