John Lennon – HAPPY XMAS (WAR IS OVER) – “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" is a song written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, released in 1971 as a single by John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir. The song reached No. 4 in the UK, where its release was delayed until 1972, and has periodically reemerged on the UK Singles Chart, most notably after Lennon's death in 1980, at which point it peaked at No. 2. Originally a protest song about the Vietnam War, "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" has since become a Christmas standard, frequently covered by other artists and appearing on compilation albums of seasonal music, and named in polls as a holiday favorite. "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" was the culmination of more than two years of peace activism undertaken by John Lennon and Yoko Ono that began with the bed-ins they convened in March and May of 1969, the first of which took place during their honeymoon. The song's direct antecedent was an international multimedia campaign launched by the couple in December 1969—at the height of the counterculture movement and its protests against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War—that primarily consisted of renting billboard space in twelve major cities around the world for the display of black-and-white posters that declared "WAR IS OVER! If You Want It – Happy Christmas from John & Yoko". Although this particular slogan had previously appeared in the 1968 anti-war songs "The War Is Over" by Phil Ochs and "The Unknown Soldier by The Doors (which features the refrain "the war is over"), its subsequent use by Lennon and Ono may just be coincidental; there is no evidence to confirm whether or not they were acquainted with these prior works.
Fiona Apple – FROSTY THE SNOWMAN - "Frosty the Snowman" is a popular song written by Walter "Jack" Rollins and Steve Nelson, and first recorded by Gene Autry and the Cass County Boys in 1950. It was written after the success of Autry's recording of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" the previous year; Rollins and Nelson shipped the new song to Autry, who recorded "Frosty" in search of another seasonal hit. Like "Rudolph", "Frosty" was subsequently adapted to other media including a popular television special. The song was originally titled "Frosty the Snow Man". Taken from a promo only release - 2008.
Arethan Franklin – JOY TO THE WORLD - "Joy to the World" is a popular Christmas carol.The words are by English hymn writer Isaac Watts, based on Psalm 98 in the Bible. The song was first published in 1719 in Watts' collection; The Psalms of David: Imitated in the language of the New Testament, and applied to the Christian state and worship. Watts wrote the words of "Joy to the World" as a hymn glorifying Christ's triumphant return at the end of the age, rather than a song celebrating His first coming. Only the second half of Watts' lyrics are still used today. The music was adapted and arranged to Watts' lyrics by Lowell Mason in 1839 from an older melody which was then believed to have originated from Handel, not least because the theme of the refrain (And heaven and nature sing...) appears in the orchestra opening and accompaniment of the recitative Comfort ye from Handel's Messiah, and the first four notes match the beginning of the choruses Lift up your heads and Glory to God from the same oratorio. However, Handel did not compose the entire tune The name "Antioch" is generally used for the tune. As of the late 20th century, "Joy to the World" was the most-published Christmas hymn in North America. Taken from a promo only release -2008.
Wilson Pickett – IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR - "In the Midnight Hour" is a song originally performed by Wilson Pickett in 1965 and released on the 1965 album of the same name, also appearing on the 1966 album The Exciting Wilson Pickett. It was composed by Pickett and Steve Cropper at the historic Lorraine Motel in Memphis where Martin Luther King, Jr. would later be murdered in April 1968. Taken from the Rhino Records Re-mastered collection, 1994.
Otis Redding – MERRY CHRSITMAS BABY - "Merry Christmas Baby" is an R&B Christmas standard written by Lou Baxter and Johnny Moore. It has been covered by many artists including Otis Redding, B.B. King, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Christina Aguilera and Hanson. The original 1947 version by Johnny Moore's Three Blazers (featuring singer/pianist Charles Brown, is the definitive version of this song. Notable cover versions include those by Chuck Berry on his 1964 album St. Louis to Liverpool and Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band recorded live at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, and included on the Christmas album A Very Special Christmas, released in 1987. A version of this song, recorded by Bonnie Raitt and Charles Brown, is included on the Christmas album A Very Special Christmas 2, released in 1992. From the promo only release, Celebrate the Season, year unknown.
U2 – ANGEL OF HARLEM - "Angel of Harlem" is the second single from U2's 1988 album, Rattle and Hum. Written as a homage to Billie Holiday, the lyrical content of the song refers to various New York City-area landmarks, including JFK airport, WBLS radio and Harlem. It also refers to jazz-related history including John Coltrane and A Love Supreme, Birdland club, Miles Davis and Holiday herself ("Lady Day").
The Pretenders – 2000 MILES - "2000 Miles" is a song by The Pretenders that was released in 1983 as the preceding single to their 1984 album, Learning to Crawl. Considered a Christmas song, it has also been released on various compilation albums. While most people believe 2,000 miles is the distance between two long distance lovers who miss each other over the holidays, it is actually meant to be for James Honeyman-Scott, the group's original guitar player, who died the year before the song was released.
Brian Wilson– LITTLE SAINT NICK - "Little Saint Nick" is a Christmas song written by Brian Wilson and Mike Loveand originally performed by The Beach Boys. It was first released as a single on December 9, 1963. Despite a media-hushed Christmas in mourning for recently assassinated President John F. Kennedy, the single went into the Top Tens of Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, Milwaukee, Vancouver and Washington DC, and the Top Twenties of San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis, Houston, Miami, and Springfield, MA. Eventually, over several more Christmases, it was credited as an unofficial (non-RIAA audited) million-seller. Taken from a promo only release -2008.
Daron Norwood – WORKING ELF BLUES - Daron Norwood (born September 30, 1965) is an American country music singer. Signed to Giant Records in 1993, he released two albums (1993's Daron Norwood and 1995's Ready, Willing and Able) for the label and charted six singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts. Norwood contributed "Working Elf Blues" to the multi-artist album Giant Country Christmas, Volume 1.
Warren Zevon – JESUS WAS A CROSSMAKER – Judee Sill (born Judith Lynn Sill, October 7, 1944 – November 23, 1979) was an American singer and songwriter. The first artist signed to David Geffen's Asylum label, she released two albums, then worked briefly as a cartoonist before dying of drug abuse in 1979. Zevon's cover of cult artist Judee Sill's "Jesus Was a Crossmaker" predated the wider rediscovery of her work a decade later. From his “Mutineer CD”, 1995.
George Thorogood – ROCK AND ROLL CHRISTMAS - George Thorogood (born February 24, 1950) is an American blues rock vocalist/guitarist from Wilmington, Delaware, United States,known for his hit song "Bad to the Bone" as well as for covers of blues standards such as Hank Williams' "Move It On Over" and John Lee Hooker's "House Rent Boogie/One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer," and Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love?". Written by Thorogood, this was taken from a promo EMI Single, 1983
Clarence Clemons – THERE’S STILL CHRISTMAS - For many rock fans, it wouldn't be Christmas without a replay or two of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's live 1975 cover of Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town — prominently featuring Clarence Clemons, who contributed both a typically meaty sax solo and the giddy "ho ho hos" that embellish the refrain. The two tracks on 'There's Still Christmas,' released in November, were originally laid down back in the fall of 1981. Clemons died from complications following a stroke in June, but this holiday season, fans can hear him play, and sing, on brand-new seasonal recordings — or at least, newly mastered ones. The three tracks on There's Still Christmas, released in November — available on iTunes, Amazon and other leading download sites, and on CD at bigmanchristmassong.com and backstreets.com— were laid down back in the fall of 1981, after a former assistant tour manager for Springsteen arranged for two songwriters he was representing, Dennis Bourke and Stevie Betts, to meet the Big Man. With Bourke and co-producer Jim Nuzzo overseeing the sessions, Clemons recorded both an instrumental reading of the standard The Christmas Song (also included in an extended version) and the title song of the new release. The latter was an original ballad that the writers and producers judged an ideal showcase for Clemons' "rich baritone vocals," Nuzzo says — not to mention his yuletide-ready cheer. "It was around October, but Clarence came in completely ready for the season," Nuzzo recalls. "He wore a Santa hat, and we had Christmas lights all around the music stand. He had a lot of fun and was a very tender man, treating us really well." By that point, Nuzzo says, "it was a little late to try to get the song to the marketplace" in time for the holidays. Clemons resumed his work with Springsteen and pursued other projects, and the tracks wound up being shelved. But when Bourke got word that Clemons had died — while he was in the hospital himself, recuperating from a double knee replacement — "I decided that this work deserved to be part of his legacy." (Betts succumbed to cancer back in 1993.) Bourke and Nuzzo approached Nick Clemons, Clarence's eldest son and a musician himself. "Since my father passed, a lot of people have come to us regarding projects and personal things," Clemons says. "This was a fun thing, something that Dennis and some other musicians who knew my father came up with after a few shots of eggnog." Nuzzo maintains that Clarence, who subsequently sang in his own bands and with other artists, "really wanted to show people that he had a nice voice. He had been this great character in Bruce's play, and this was a chance for him to show he was also a really good singer." The elder Clemons also supported his son's musical ambitions, though "he really wanted me to be an attorney," quips Nick, who sings and plays guitar in his own Nick Clemons Band. The two performed together on a track called No Worries, expected to premiere on iTunes by year's end. Nick Clemons says tending to his father's estate and continuing his charity work has been bittersweet. "My father had a huge presence. He was never owned by me; he's owned by the world. It's important to continue celebrating his life."