Retrofit: Holiday Rarities

Photo: James Brown 'A Soulful Christmas' album cover

But things sometimes work in other directions.

When I was really little I wanted a Christmas album that was a compilation of artists, Frank Sinatra among them. My parents rationalized that actually purchasing the album was not cost effective because you couldn't listen to it year round. To be of true value, a record needed to have 12 months of possibilities.

Now, I don't really think that bent any kind of twig of mistletoe or anything. I saw their point. Music money would be better spent on Elvis or the Kingston Trio.

But somewhere along the line I acquired this Jones for holiday music, and the weirder and more obscure the better. Soon one shelf became four, then a whole bookcase of music that you could only listen to once every year.

And every December, it all became new again.

Burl Ives and "Holly Jolly Christmas" I'll hear too much this season, but I can never get enough of James Brown and "Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto." Bing Crosby and "White Christmas"? It's everywhere, which makes Loretta Lynn's "To Heck with Ole Santa Claus" that much more special.

People who say they can't stand Christmas music have never heard Clarence Carter's "Back Door Santa." Or the Sonics and "Santa Claus." Or Sufjan Stevens and "Did I Make You Cry on Christmas?"

I could go on. And I will.

Retrofit this week is "Holiday Rarities." Not necessarily because I scoured piles of 78s in dusty record store basements, just because this playlist resides somewhere left of the Yawning Yule Super Predictable.

Think of it as a compilation that only works short time on the calendar, but works long after Frosty's stroll in the sunshine...and happy holidays!