It’s officially that time of year again. We’re less than two weeks away from Christmas and the Outsider crew is in the holiday spirit. We love getting together with family, eating great food, and exchanging gifts. But, no Christmas celebration would be complete without some toe-tapping country classics to add to the mood. With that in mind, we put together some of our favorite songs to share with you and yours this season.
“Pretty Paper” – Willie Nelson
“Pretty Paper” was the title track from Willie Nelson’s first Christmas album. When the record hit shelves in 1979, the title track was already a hit. Roy Orbison recorded it in 1963 and took it to the number 10 spot on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. Since then, several country greats including Marty Robbins have covered the now-classic Christmas song. Wille teamed up with Dolly to turn the song into a duet last year and it’s gorgeous. However, you can never go wrong with the Red-Headed Stranger playing this holiday favorite live.
“Christmas in Prison” – John Prine
I think we can all agree that John Prine was one of the greatest songwriters to ever put pen to paper. It didn’t matter if he was writing folk, country, or Christmas songs, he didn’t miss. “Christmas in Prison” is no exception. Like most of Prine’s work, you’re not getting the same old holly jolly tune here.
Even if you’re not doing time, if you’ve ever been away from your loved ones for the holidays, this one will hit home. As usual, Prine paints a vivid picture here.
“The searchlight in the big yard / Swings round with the gun / And spotlights the snowflakes / Like the dust in the sun. / It’s Christmas in prison. / There’ll be music tonight. / I’ll probably get homesick. / I love you / Goodnight.”
“Two-Step ‘Round the Christmas Tree” – Suzy Bogguss
Suzy Boggus co-penned “Two-Step ‘Round the Christmas Tree” with her husband Doug Crider. Michael Martin Murphy cut the song first, though. He included it on his 1991 album Cowboy Christmas. Then, Bogguss released it as a single the next year. Both versions are good, but Bogguss’ version is by far the best. The energy she puts into her vocal delivery will boost your holiday spirit like nothing else. If you’re looking for a song that blends Christmas spirit with that classic country sound, you’ve found it.
“Santa Claus and Popcorn” – Merle Haggard
I know, I know. “What about ‘If We Make It Through December?’ While that’s a great country song, it has nothing to do with Christmas. This one, on the other hand, does.
“Santa Claus and Popcorn” also comes from Merle’s 1973 album Hag’s Christmas and is a different kind of Christmas song. In this tune, Haggard blends the secular and religious aspects of the holiday and creates a song that everyone can agree on. It’s a reminder that happiness, togetherness, and love are the most important parts of the holiday.
“Carolers singing Silent Night / Crosby dreams of Christmas white. / We celebrate because the King was born / With Santa Claus and popcorn.”
“Rockin Around the Christmas Tree” – Brenda Lee
Okay, so, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” technically isn’t a country song, it leans more toward rockabilly. However, no Yuletide playlist would be complete without this classic. There are countless covers of this song, but Brenda Lee pressed it first. She released the Johnny Marks-penned Christmas classic in 1958 at the age of 13. Since then, it has become a holiday standard. You’d be hard-pressed to make it through December without hearing it, so you might as well listen to the original.
Whatever you add to your Christmas playlist, we here at Outsider wish you and yours a safe and Merry Christmas.