By this time of year, we’ve all been inundated with holiday music for weeks. The standards are inescapable, as it seems that every radio station is blaring some version of “Silent Night” or “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”
We tend to look in different places for our Christmas tunes. Sure, there might be a time and a place for some Manheim Steamroller, but there are so many more gems out there that can serve as a much-needed changeup.
So as we get ready to unwrap presents and sip on some nutmeg-infused eggnog, here are five great Gretsch holiday tunes that should be on your playlist right now:
Chet Atkins – “Silver Bells”
Side one of Chet Atkins’ Christmas with Chet Atkins album was a Gretsch-laden masterpiece, and his rendition of “Silver Bells” was certainly a shining star. Matthew Greenwald of Allmusic wrote that it was “quite simply, one of the best versions of the standard ever, and possibly one of Atkins’ most arresting performances of all-time.” Understated, with only a few crooners in the background, this song sets the mood to curl up by the fireplace with a cup of cocoa.
AC/DC – “Mistress for Christmas”
AC/DC’s 1990 album The Razor’s Edge included such mega-hits as “Thunderstruck” and “Moneytalks,” but they also added a little holiday ditty that asks for only one present – a “Mistress for Christmas.” With Angus Young offering tasty guitar riffs over brother Malcolm’s steady rhythm parts, Brian Johnson’s voice scratched out a final line of “I wanna ride on your reindeer, honey, and ring the bells!” That’s holiday spirit.
George Harrison – “Ding Dong, Ding Dong”
“Ding Dong, Ding Dong” was actually a New Year’s-themed song off George Harrison’s 1974 album Dark Horse. The lead single, in fact. It’s definitely a more catchy option than Auld Lang Syne, with its richly layered guitars, horns, sleigh bells and “Ring out the old, ring in the new” refrain. Upon listening to the song, it really feels like a New Year’s Eve party, as there is no telling how many people contributed backing vocals to the celebratory track.
Brian Setzer Orchestra – “So They Say It’s Christmas”
Brian Setzer has brought his Christmas Rocks! Extravaganza tour around the country for nine years now, so it’s only fitting that he makes the list. The master of rockabilly penned this original song for his Brian Setzer Orchestra Boogie Woogie Christmas album, and its swinging horns provide a canvas that allows Setzer to fill in the holes with some deft noodling on his signature Gretsch guitars. Grab a martini for this one!
Tegan and Sara – “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)”
In an homage to their recent appearance on the Christmas-themed episode of 90210, we had to close with this classic Alvin and the Chipmunks song that Tegan and Sara covered for 2010’s Gift Wrapped II: Snowed In. The sisterly duo’s harmonies would have meshed perfectly with the high-pitched voiced of Alvin, Simon and Theodore, and it’s impossible not to smile and remember your childhood when a motherly voice calls out for “Saraaaaaaaa!!” to start singing.