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Christmas with Lou Rawls - LAST PODCAST OF THE YEAR!

Welcome to WEEK 256 of MUSIC is not a GENRE (Video #82 & S4Ep20)

Lou Rawls’ Merry Christmas Ho! Ho! Ho! – Why PLAYLISTS MATTER

A few years ago, I started a playlist called MY Christmas. It’s an offshoot of the Christmas CDs I’ve collected over the decades, which themselves were inspired by the very eclectic collection of Christmas vinyl & cassettes my dad plays every year. The playlist is my declaration of independence from standard Christmas mixes with all the usual suspects. Great songs most of them, but there’s no reason to limit ourselves to just those. So I curate a playlist that might rank as the most diverse collection of Christmas songs anywhere. You can hear it here:

Every year I add to it. I’m always looking for new material, whether that means actual new holiday songs or old songs I’ve never heard or simply forgot about. That last category includes this week’s topic, the 1967 Lou Rawls album, Merry Christmas Ho! Ho! Ho!. It’s a CD I’ve had since the mid-1990s. I can’t remember what prompted me to buy it, but as soon as I did it became a perennial favorite. It’s a great mix of traditional & irreverent, cheese & soul. Which also describes Lou Rawls, one of the greatest pop-soul singers of the 1960s-70s. His is a name you’d hear pop up along with all the other famous crooners of that era. He was one of those dudes who bridged the gap between old & new, and made it seem effortless.

And YET, I totally forgot about this CD until last year, when I quickly added several of the songs to my playlist. And here’s why playlists matter. They are the closest mainstream & accessible thing we get to mixtapes, DJ mixes, and/or old school radio stations that would play more than one genre. The best playlists aren’t just a bunch of songs thrown together to serve some general purpose or evoke a certain mood. They’re carefully considered collections of songs that matter to the curator. They do what the best playlists, mixtapes, DJs & radio stations have always done: introduce lesser known interesting material into a mix of better known songs, so those more obscure songs can be exposed to a wider audience. They evoke a mood, serve a purpose, AND move the music conversation forward. They create connection & promote diversity. They bust through genre conventions and laugh at the Clear Channels of the world.

I haven’t done this in a while, but this album totally deserves it. My favorite tracks are #s 2, 5, 6, 7 (even with the mucked up lyric!), and 10. In particular, 7 & 10 are two of my favorite versions of two of my favorite holiday songs.

I won’t pretend there’s any direct influence, but you can hear the mix of traditional rock, irreverent lyrics, and loose holiday theme in this REC song. It’s also in the MY Christmas playlist on Spotify.

REC – “XMiss” (from the album The Sunshine Seminar)

Did you know this album? Or Lou Rawls? What are some of your favorite holiday songs/albums that you think other people might not know but should? Do you take as much care as I do to create playlists? Have you discovered new songs & artists on other playlists? Discuss dammit!


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