I used to think it was something to be terribly ashamed of; I thought that admitting my favorite-ever Christmas album would be globally reviled as the ultimate sign of being a redneck. In place of the truth I would pick a super safe bet like Mariah Carey’s “Merry Christmas” to which everyone (of course) would simply agree because Mariah’s was one of very VERY few holiday albums in the last 20 years to produce a true, original holiday classic. Over time I have come to realize that my favorite Christmas album of all time is shared by many and I’m no longer afraid to admit it so today, on Christmas Eve 2011, I share it with all of you: my fellow disciples of the Church of Pop.
“Once Upon a Christmas”, the classic holiday album by Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton was released in December of 1984. I was four years old and though I don’t recall if it became a family tradition this early on in my childhood, somehow it is one of my most exclusive Christmas memories as far back as I can remember.
The album accompanied a one-hour television special (Kenny & Dolly: A Christmas to Remember) that aired on CBS. To date, I don’t believe I have seen the show in it’s entirety but many of the performances can be found on YouTube and will be prominently featured in this post! 🙂
“Once Upon A Christmas” offers a wide range of Holiday fare from original upbeat, country hoedown moments like “With Bells On” and “I Believe In Santa Claus” to the epic orchestral melancholy of the title track: “Once Upon A Christmas” which revisits Christmas from a biblical perspective. Possibly the album’s best: “Greatest Gift of All” was the first single to be released from the album and is still a popular radio staple every year during the holidays. In addition to the previously mentioned tracks which are originals, there are plenty of Christmas classics including White Christmas, Silent Night, Sleigh Ride, and The Christmas Song for traditionalists.
As a messenger and holy vessel for The Pop Gods to spread the good word of popular culture to the masses, I’m elated to present the original “Once Upon A Christmas” tracklisting, accompanied by videos from the companion TV special (when available). I hope you all enjoy it as much as I (and many other children of the 80’s) do and that you add it to your list of Holiday traditions. It wouldn’t be a regular Christmas in my home without it!
- I Believe in Santa Claus [3:29]
- Winter Wonderland/Sleigh Ride [3:42]
- Christmas Without You [3:52]
- The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting) [3:25]
- A Christmas to Remember [3:40]
- With Bells On [2:41]
- Silent Night [3:18]
(Video unavailable, unfortunately.)
- The Greatest Gift of All [3:44]
- White Christmas [3:04]
- Once Upon a Christmas [4:20]
When I found this album again on CD a couple of years ago, I never bothered to look into it but I always felt like something was different and a couple of songs were missing. As it turns out, when it was re-released in 1997 on CD they rearranged the tracklist and omitted “Winter Wonderland” and “The Christmas Song”, replacing them instead with Dolly’s “Hard Candy Christmas” from 1982 film: The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas. While it was never really a holiday song, like many songs from movie musicals (see “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music) it has become over time.
- Hard Candy Christmas
For some reason, the entirety of “Once Upon A Christmas” is not currently available on iTunes. There are only three songs currently available. As much as I would love for you all to buy and support this classic album I have no links to give you! You can find it on CD pretty much anywhere for about $5.00 or if you look hard enough online I know first hand that there are torrents available but I would like to continue to keep this blog legal so I won’t be linking you up to any. I do hope, however, that perhaps I have turned some of you on to a wonderful classic of a holiday album and maybe inspired you to start a holiday music tradition of your own. 🙂