Holiday Cheer

U2, “New Year’s Day” from War (1983): One Track Mind

U2, “New Year’s Day” from War (1983): One Track Mind

Like some of the best political songs, U2’s “New Year’s Day” started out as a love song.

Nancy Wilson, “What Are You Doing New Year’s?” (1963): One Track Mind

Nancy Wilson, “What Are You Doing New Year’s?” (1963): One Track Mind

Nancy Wilson nails the sense of hopeful anxiety that surrounds Dec. 31 every year, like a more contemplative Dinah Washington.

Bob Dylan – Christmas In The Heart (2009): On Second Thought

Bob Dylan – Christmas In The Heart (2009): On Second Thought

We all have our Christmas morning traditions. One of mine, at least since 2009, is repeatedly playing Bob Dylan’s ‘Christmas In The Heart.’

The Eagles fashioned a Christmas classic out of tough times: ‘This was not going to be a romp’

The Eagles fashioned a Christmas classic out of tough times: ‘This was not going to be a romp’

Though it’s become a treasured Yuletide standard, the Eagles’ take on “Please Come Home for Christmas” has a complicated back story.

Larry Carlton, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” (2014): One Track Mind

Larry Carlton, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” (2014): One Track Mind

Top guitar session player Larry Carlton covers “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” with heaping helpings of both skill and sentiment.

The Temptations – The Temptations Christmas Card (1970): On Second Thought

The Temptations – The Temptations Christmas Card (1970): On Second Thought

This album will always be defined by its lead-off moment, as the Temptations take a kid’s song and transform it into a funked-out Yuletide hoot.

Butcher Brown, “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” (2014): One Track Mind

Butcher Brown, “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” (2014): One Track Mind

If Butcher Brown can make “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” so delectably fonky, they can groove up just about any old tune.

Jimmy Rushing, “Good Morning Blues” (1937): One Track Mind

Jimmy Rushing, “Good Morning Blues” (1937): One Track Mind

Sometimes, you’ve simply got to talk back to the blues. That’s what happened to Jimmy Rushing, appearing here with the Count Basie Orchestra.

Brian Setzer Orchestra – Christmas Comes Alive (2010): On Second Thought

Brian Setzer Orchestra – Christmas Comes Alive (2010): On Second Thought

Brian Setzer, an unjustly unheralded guitar player, has this knack for connecting with the redux zeitgeist.

The Band, “Christmas Must Be Tonight” from Islands (1977): Across the Great Divide

The Band, “Christmas Must Be Tonight” from Islands (1977): Across the Great Divide

The Band’s perhaps too ambitious “Christmas Must Be Tonight” never became the seasonal favorite it should have been.