Christmas music collection incomplete if it doesn’t include Lou Rawls “Merry Christmas Ho! Ho! Ho!”

Highlighted by smooth swagger and swinging arrangements Lou Rawls’ 1967 Capitol Records “Merry Christmas Ho! Ho! Ho!” includes several songs written specifically for the project by J.W. Alexander, a former member of the gospel group The Pilgrim Travelers and the man who discovered and later went on to partner with Sam Cooke throughout his illustrious career. Of special note is Alexander’s, “Christmas Will Really Be Christmas,” an all too often overlooked Christmas classic.

Track listing:

The Little Drummer Boy
Good Time Christmas
Little Boy Dear
Christmas Is
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
Merry Christmas, Baby
The Christmas Song
Christmas Will Really Be Christmas
What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve
A Child With A Toy



Stranger In A Strange Land: American Music Giant Leon Russell Passes Away Aged 74

Leon Russell sits at the keys testifying, leading the choir in his 1971 gospel driven “Stranger In A Strange Land”

How many days has it been
Since I was born
How many days until I die
Do I know any ways
That I can make you laugh
Or do I only know how to make you cry

When the baby looks around him
It’s such a sight to see
He shares a simple secret
With the wise man

He’s a stranger in a strange land
Just a stranger in a strange land
Tell me why
He’s a stranger in a strange land
Just a stranger in a strange land

How many miles will it take
To see the sun
And how many years until it’s done
Kiss my confusion away in the night
Lay by side when the morning comes

And the baby looks around him
And shares his bed of hay
With the burrow in the palace of the king

He’s a stranger in a strange land
Tell me why
He’s a stranger in a strange land
Just a stranger in a strange land

Well, I don’t exactly know
What’s going on in the world today
Don’t know what there is to say
About the way the people are treating
Each other, not like brothers

Leaders take us far away from ecology
With mythology and astrology
Has got some words to say
About the way we live today
Why can’t we learn to love each other
It’s time to turn a new face
To the whole world wide human race

Stop the money chase
Lay back, relax
Get back on the human track
Stop racing toward oblivion
Oh, such a sad, sad state we’re in
And that’s a thing

Do you recognize the bells of truth
When you hear them ring
Won’t you stop and listen
To the children sing
Won’t you come on and sing it children

He’s a stranger in a strange land
Just a stranger in a strange land


Christmas music collection incomplete if it doesn’t include Etta James “12 Songs of Christmas”

Pianist Cedar Walton’s jazz arrangements of twelve standard holiday songs with lengthy solos by Walton himself as well as George Bohanon on trombone and Red Holloway on tenor saxophone. Following its release on October 13, 1998 the album was given 3 and a half stars out of 5 by Rolling Stone Magazine and reached a peak position of number five on Billboard’s Top Blues Albums chart. Over 62 minutes in duration, originally released on the now defunct Grammy award winning American independent record label Private Music.

Track listing:

“Winter Wonderland” (Felix Bernard, Richard B. Smith) – 4:26
“Jingle Bells” (James Pierpont) – 5:26
“This Time of Year” (Jesse Hollis, Cliff Owens) – 5:47
“Merry Christmas, Baby” (Lou Baxter, Johnny Moore) – 6:10
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (Ralph Blane, Hugh Martin) – 4:45
“Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” (John Frederick Coots, Haven Gillespie) – 6:22
“White Christmas” (Irving Berlin) – 5:52
“Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” (Mel Tormé, Robert Wells) – 4:23
“Little Drummer Boy” (Katherine Kennicott Davis, Henry Onorati, Harry Simeone) – 4:59
“Silent Night” (Franz Xaver Gruber, Joseph Mohr) – 4:49
“Joy to the World” (George Frideric Handel, Lowell Mason, Isaac Watts) – 5:30
“O Holy Night” (Adolphe Adam, John Sullivan Dwight) – 4:50