Archive of CD Mixes from Previous Years
Here's where you can find all of my previous holiday mixes starting with the first mix I sent to my entire holiday card list in 2005. Each mix is available to stream at will, and there are also track listings for each CD. Enjoy!
All Alone on Christmas
By the time the 2020 holiday season rolled around about the only thing Americans could agree on was that we'd all been through an especially difficult year. The COVID-19 pandemic brought illness, grief and fear to literally every part of the globe while U.S. efforts to battle the emergency were hampered by rapidly increasing levels of divisiveness and civil unrest. The development of a promising vaccine and Joe Biden's defeat of President Donald Trump brought some hope as the year drew to a close, but it was a grim holiday season for most folks, as a quick listen to my 2020 holiday mix attests. Putting this one together was neither easy nor pleasant. Listening to it isn't a whole lot of fun either. Those of us who made it through 2020 won't soon forget the experience. The songs on this collection remind us of how lucky we are.
Christmas Is the Time: The Best and Worst of Mark's Holiday Mixes, 2005-19
In celebration of the 15th year of my annual holiday mixes, the collection I created in 2019 featured the best and worst of the past 15 years. Naturally, you'll find a little bit of everything on this one, including old favorites by William Hung, Wing, "Rudibaker" Williams and the inimitable Johnny "Bowtie" Barstow. Narrowing the list to fit on a single CD wasn't easy, but I'm confident you'll find something memorable on this one, no matter how dreadful your taste in holiday music may be.
My Christmas Time Philosophy
The title track of this mix is one of those crazy songs that once heard can't easily be forgotten. From the uneven, wobbly opening notes to the awkward fade at the end it reeks of amateurish production and tacky sentiment, but after repeated listens it kind of grows on you much the same way as you grow accustomed to chronic back pain. But there's lots of good tunes on this disc, too. The BoDeans offer two fine tracks: "Jingle Bell Rock" and "Christmas Everyday." The venerable Dick Van Dyke offers an upbeat duet with actress Jane Lynch called "We're Going Caroling"; there's "Christmas Behind the Wheel" by The Saddle Tramps, and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings offer a bright number called "Eight Days of Hannukah." But then Red Sovine and Johnny "Bowtie" Barstow show up as they now seem to do each year so it's not all pretty ribbons and bows either. Enjoy what you will and leave the rest.
It's Christmas Time Again!
This is the mix that almost wasn't. You see, while most of my annual mixes are completed long before Thanksgiving, in the Fall of 2017 I just wasn't feeling it. In fact, as Black Friday dawned I hadn't even started to put anything together. Then around 2:00 on the Sunday afternoon of Thanksgiving weekend I started to feel a curious mix of inspiration and guilt and did something I wouldn't have believed possible: I threw this year's mix together in a single sitting. I named the mix "It's Christmas Time Again" after a frightening song of the same name by Harley Poe, which is every bit as awful as the previous 12 months had been following the election of Donald Trump. The mix itself as about what you've probably come to expect from me each year — some tired old classics, a few gruesome and grating tracks almost too painful to bear, with a few brief comedic interludes. There's also the customary tributes to departed entertainers, which is depressingly long this year. But it's something anyway — 35 separate tracks to play whilst washing the dishes or vacuuming dead pine needles from under the tree.
Let It Snow!
OK, I might as well just admit this from the outset: this mix was the product of a deeply disturbed mind. Donald Trump had just been elected president and I wasn't playing with a full deck. Hell, from what little I can remember I was playing with knives mostly. Yet from the depths of my depression I somehow realized that it was important -- no, vital -- for us to carry on and be strong. Now more than ever some people needed a cheesy collection of lousy holiday tunes and other nonsense. I couldn't disappoint my tiny group of deeply disturbed followers when they needed me most! Lawrence Welk kicks things off with a special request for Mike Pence and "Mother" performed by what appear to be heavily medicated Amway interns. Happily we had Jiminy Cricket and the Hanna Barbera All Stars nearby to inject some fun to the mix before the CD's first anti-Trump tracks reminds us of the kind of real trouble we're in. Also featured are great tunes by the Dropkick Murphys, Carole King and the adorable Tyler Joseph of twentyone pilots. God bless us every one.
Deck Those Halls!
This mix opens with a message from the Jack Coyle Chevrolet Company referencing their "free record and free gasoline program," which shouldn't be misinterpreted. No free gas here, I'm afraid. But there's lots of good music and other noise. Next up is a beautiful song by the late Wayne Champion. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy follows with the third track, "Christmas Is Starting Now," a bouncy and fast-paced little number that makes the start of this year's mix sound uncomfortably close to normal. But after a quick hello from the Producers of Tarzan, Gentlemen on Escalators approach the microphone, and while the sentiments of their offering ("Christmas Is Great") are hardly controversial, you just know that pretty soon all bets will be off.
Is There Really a Santa Claus?
This one starts with a trio of "outsider" tunes by the inimitable Daniel Johnston and Tennessee gubernatorial candidate Basil Marceaux. Odd selections? Perhaps. But the joy of Christmas can touch every heart, and its simple message of hope is often magnified when shared by the forgotten and downtrodden. Well, something like that, anyway.
You'll want to hold on to your stocking cap while listening to this fast-paced mix! It begins with a tasteful introduction from former President Ronald Reagan, which was recorded before The Gipper entered politics during his service as a spokesman for General Electric. After the former president passes the microphone to teen idol Bobby Sherman, however, C'est Noel offers a mix of energetic and upbeat trracks including Little Jackie's "Santa Claus Ain't Got Nothing on Me," James Brown's "Clean for Christmas," and "Christmas City," by the incomparable Merv Griffin. Of course, there are also a good number of slower, more thoughtful numbers, including the soul gems "Purple Snowflakes," by Marvin Gaye and The Soul Duo's "Sad Christmas." It's a great mix to listen to for those late nights by the Christmas tree.
Here Comes Santa Claus!
I put this one together during a particularly hard-fought presidential campaign, but you'd never know it from the upbeat tone of the finished product. Indeed, from the opening remarks by former MetLife President Haley Fiske to the determined optimism of "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," this is a feel-good mix if ever there was one. Some of the highlights include "Ain't No Chimneys in the Projects," by the wonderful Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, "Honky, the Christmas Goose," by former Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Johnny Bower, and "My Favorite Time of the Year," by the Florin Street Band. You also get greetings from Newt and Calista Gingrich and the Cast of "The Nanny," and songs in honor of Andy Williams, Phyllis Diller, Dick Clark and several other beloved entertainers we lost in 2012. Play this jolly mix and put on a big holiday smile!
Gee, Whiz . . . It's Christmas (Again!)
This was the first of my holiday mixes to include anything from Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, and while there's no music from Bruce on this one per se, there's a 37-year-old holiday greeting he recorded before hitting it big, the opening track is by the Max Weinberg 7, which is led by the E Street Band's famous drummer, and two numbers were added in remembrance of former E Street Band sax player Clarence Clemons, who passed away the previous year. There's also a series of excerpts from the 1960 animation "Christmas Lost and Found," featuring the inimitable Davey and Goliath. Of course, there's lots of good music on this CD, too. It ends with Robbie Robertson's hauntingly beautiful "Christmas Must Be Tonight," performed by The Band.
Growing up in New England, nearly all of my early Christmases were white, but good holiday music still puts me in the Christmas spirit even when it's 80 degrees outside! This collection includes a little something for everyone, from rockers Tommy Tutone ("Santa, I Got Your Number") and Dwight Twilley ("Snowman Magic") to the tropical tones of Ricky Martin ("Ay, Ay, Ay, It's Christmas") and Lucky Luck, whose version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" replaces the traditional lords-a- leaping, maids-a-milking and French hens with flowered leis, hula lessons and poi. There's even three numbers for the Republican set, including a secretly recorded phone conversation in which Richard Nixon and Nelson Rockefeller exchange holiday greetings. Guess which one of them taped it?
I Just Can't Wait 'til Christmas!
The title track of my 2009 holiday CD is by actor, drag queen, model, author and recording artist RuPaul, whose reality TV show "RuPaul's Drag Race" debuted that year, and while few performers can match her when it comes to being festive, the other 44 tracks on this CD offer enough holiday spirit to melt even Scrooge's ice-cold heart. There's music from "Tennessee" Ernie Ford, Patti LaBelle and the Jackson Five; holiday greetings from Walter Cronkite, Lawrence Welk and Patrick Swayze; and some unforgettable contributions from Tammy Faye Bakker and venerable favorites Red Sovine and Johnny "Bowtie" Barstow. This one's also noteworthy for taking on one of the most divisive political issues of our time, as it features three different songs that ask: Is Santa Claus a hippie?
Home for the Holidays!
The year 2008 was a difficult and tumultuous one in many respects, but by the time I started putting this CD together things seemed to have bottomed out and there was a sense of relief and optimism following the election of Barack Obama as president. There's plenty of upbeat material on this one, starting with Ringo Starr's "C'mon Christmas" and including "You Meet the Nicest People at Christmas" by Dinah Shore, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" by Gary "U.S." Bonds and the beautiful "Miracle of Lights," written and performed by Sandra Bernhard. Of course, there are also a few numbers that may leave you trying to scratch your head and cover your ears at the same time, but, hey, it was just that kind of year.
Let's Trim the Christmas Tree!
This mix was one of my first to contain a more balanced mix of pleasant tunes and "other noise," with a dollop of holiday ephemera for flavor. There's also the slight hint of a theme here, as much of the material involves our old favorite, the Christmas tree. The title track is one of a handful of amazing holiday songs released in the late 1950s and early '60s by the Canadian company CLM Line Material, and it kicks off this compilation in high spirits. There's also "The Christmas Tree that Ran Away," by The Caroleers, John Barry's "Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown?" and "Daddy, Is Santa Really 6'4"? by Kay Brown, which may not involve Christmas trees, but it's one you won't ever forget.
Hooray for Santa Claus!
This CD was something I put together for the annual holiday charity auction at a firm where I used to work. For some reason the December 2006 auction was rescheduled to February 2007, and I had enough leftover tracks from the 2006 mix I'd recently completed to put together this bonus collection. The content of this mix still leans heavily in the direction of "so bad it's good," with such numbers as "Put the Loot in the Boot" from Mae West, "I Want Elvis for Christmas" by The Holly Twins, and Heather Noel's "Santa Came on a Nuclear Missile." There's also a couple of great political tunes by The Capitol Steps, holiday greetings from Axel Rose and Dom DeLuise and Paddy Roberts' classic "Merry Christmas You Suckers."
Stop Singing Those Dreadful Songs!
What can you say about a holiday CD that includes two versions of "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" -- one by Regis Philbin, and the other by Tiny Tim? But wait! That's not all! This mix also contains such nightmares as Wayne Newton's "Jingle Bells," Roger Christian's "Little Mary Christmas," and "Santa Doesn't Cop Out on Dope," by Sonic Youth. George W. Bush makes two appearances -- rockin' out as he lights the White House Christmas tree (impressive) and attempting to read "The Night Before Christmas" to a group of preschoolers (not so much). Also featured are Howdy Doody, Captain Kangaroo, William Hung, Wing and Little Cindy, whose version of Burl Ives' "Happy Birthday, Jesus" is perhaps the most frightening Christmas song of all time.
Don't Wake the Kids!
My first few holiday mixes contained a high percentage of "cringe-worthy" tracks, and this one's no exception. In fact, just about every number on this CD may be tough to handle without an abundance of inner peace, a fresh pitcher of eggnog or a good pair of earmuffs. There's "The Twelve Days of Christmas" as performed by a drunken bar singer, "Rockin' Disco Santa Claus" by The Sisterhood, Greg Brady's voice-breaking version of "Here Comes Santa Claus," and the most horrific version of "O Holy Night" ever recorded. This compilation also includes classic contributions from Wing, American Idol's William Hung (remember "She Bangs"?) and the incomparable Johnny "Bowtie" Barstow. They don't make 'em like this anymore. Thank God.