A soundtrack to escort the holiday season

Published 5:47 pm Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas is billed as “the most wonderful time of the year,” but it’s also the busiest time of the year for most of us.

That means it can be hard to find the time to watch our favorite Christmas television specials or films.

However, some of the soundtracks to those beloved classics can help further the holiday spirits as Christmas Day rapidly approaches.

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Holiday soundtracks — both for television and film — also offer a worthy alternative to the Christmas radio tunes, which can become a bit repetitive.

Here are a few of the holiday soundtracks I’m listening to this holiday season, along with a few trivia items on each, since I can never get enough film/TV trivia:

 ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ 

I’m sure I’ve written about this Vince Guaraldi Trio classic in past columns. But I’m unapologetic. It’s perhaps the best and most uniquely styled Christmas soundtrack there is, with such classics as “Greensleeves,” “Linus and Lucy” and “Christmas Time is Here.”

Trivia: Producer Lee Mendelson wrote the lyrics for Vince Guaraldi’s “Christmas Time is Here.” Several sources, including film site www.imdb.com, say his son, Glenn, and his sixth-grade class sang the vocals.

 ‘The Muppet  Christmas Carol’ 

No holiday season is complete for me until I’ve watched “The Muppet Christmas Carol.” And while it’s the best version of Charles Dicken’s novella — at least in my humble opinion — the story is backed by a stellar, original soundtrack that doesn’t rely on recreating holiday classics. Even Michael Caine delivers with a pleasant turn singing.

Trivia: Paul Williams, who wrote the music and lyrics, won an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1977 for “Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born),” an award he shared with Barbra Streisand. And the film wasn’t Caine’s only musical endeavor. The film’s star released an 18-track compilation album in 2007 of his selection of “chill-out classics.”


Everything about the movie “Elf” continues impressing me to this day: how good Will Ferrell is in his role, how it’s Christmas cheer coaxes me into overlooking its plot problems, even the soundtrack is bouncing ode to prior Christmas music. Is it over-the-top happy? Yes, but it just works.

Trivia: Composor John Debney was nominated for an Academy Award for “The Passion of the Christ.” He also did the scores for “Spy Kids,” “The Replacements” and “Sin City.”

 ‘Home Alone’

John Williams is the man behind some of the most beloved soundtracks in music history: “Star Wars,” “Jurassic Park,” “Jaws” and many more. Is anyone surprised that he created a pleasant and memorable soundtrack with “Home Alone.”

Trivia: Williams holds the record for most Academy Award nominations for a living person with 49. He’s won five times: “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Jaws,” “Star Wars,” “ET the Extra-Terrestrial” and “Schindler’s List.”

“Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”

I’m talking about the classic TV special — not the Jim Carrey film. Though the film and its score boast certain charms, both have flaws that will keep either from being considered a classic like the TV spot narrated by Boris Karloff. The soundtrack not only features the original “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch,” it also include pleasant songs sung by the Whos: “Trim Up the Tree” and “Welcome Christmas.” But most importantly, it features substantial parts of Karloff’s narration, which serve as audiobook snippets.

Trivia: Karloff received a Grammy Award in the Spoken Word category, but Suess reportedly objected to his casting as the Grinch, fearing he’d make the Grinch too frightening.