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Christmas Music Playlists with Aretha Franklin Songs
There Ain’t Nothing Like A Christmas Wreatha
Factfile - Aretha Franklin
- In 1961, Aretha recorded Kissin' By The Mistletoe which appeared on the Chirstmas compilation An All Star Christmas.
- In 1964 Franklin released a single The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) / Winter Wonderland.
- In 2006 Sony released a compilation under the title Joy to the world - about half of which were various Christmas recordings from her catalogue.
- In 2008 Franklin recorded her first full Christmas album, This Christmas; initially the release was limited to Borders bookstore. The title track from the album features her son Edward. The album peaked at #102 on the Billboard chart.
You could hardly call it a growing trend but on the evidence of Bob Dylan’s 2009 ‘Christmas In The Heart’ and Aretha Franklin’s 2008 ‘This Christmas’ there are some artists that are finally realising the magic of having a Christmas record before it’s too late. In Dylan’s case it exposed a bard with plenty of mirth in his armoury and Aretha similarly threw everything triumphant into her first Christmas record. Unlike Dylan however Franklin had recorded some Christmas songs prior to her debut festive long player. The best known of these appeared on 2 singles in the mid 1960’s. A 1963 single called ‘Kissin' By The Misletoe’ was the first to arrive although it had previously appeared on a 1961 compilation called ‘We Wish You The Merriest - An All-Star Christmas’ (which included Johnny Cash’s version of ‘Little Drummer Boy’). And what a swinging delight it proved to be with a real sense of ‘Winter Wonderland’ about it. The following year Franklin went the whole hog and recorded a double a-side single for Christmas 1964. Her ‘The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On Open Fire)’ displayed all her vocal talents and hearing it sung by a female gave the song plenty of appealing nuances. ‘Winter Wonderland’ was also embellished with Aretha’s personality and with a production that was heavy in orchestral fancies it is surprising how little airplay it gets nowadays.
After that surge of Christmas activity way back in the sixties it would be 2005 before Aretha turned to the season again and this time she collaborated with another group which had managed to thrive beyond their peak in the 20th century. The Four Tops ‘Christmas Here With You’ featured Franklin’s impassioned vocals on 3 numbers, the title track, ‘Silent Night’ and ‘White Christmas’. With harmonies aplenty this was a gentle reintroduction to the season for the diva. With Aretha’s Christmas output scattered across a myriad of releases it was perhaps a little surprising that it took until 2006 before her label aggregated them all on a compilation called ‘Joy To The World’. As well as the aforementioned singles this collection included Franklin’s 1962 cover of Billie Holiday’s ‘God Bless This Child’ and her extremely happy 90's gospel version of ‘Joy To The World’ which she recorded for the soundtrack to the Christmas movie ‘Miracle on 34th Street’.
Almost half a century after her first label recording Aretha released her first festive LP, 2008’s ‘This Christmas’, and it showed the world what it had been missing each December. The album had initially been an exclusive Borders outlet release but it has since been given wider distribution. The title track was a cover of Donny Hathaway’s 1970 R&B number and featured Aretha’s son Eddie on shared vocals. ‘This Christmas’ is as smooth as Christmas tunes get and with Aretha in superb vocal form how could it fail? For the most part the album follows a well worn religious path but for someone with Aretha’s gospel roots it must have seemed like the sensible choice. So her renditions of ‘Silent Night’, ‘Ave Maria’ and ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’ are ideal Christmas Eve material with the singer’s soulful personality breaking through on every occasion. ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas’ put the seal on ‘This Christmas’ with Franklin rewording the spoken word classic in a most comical of ways. It was a slight curveball for an album which had up to that point been as reverential as Christmas records get. Aretha it seems has lost none of her spark despite her advancing years!
Let's start with the church. As you know, it's my background, it's a natural setting for me and it's definitely my roots.
Aretha Franklin Christmas Album & Single Covers