Peter, Paul & Mary

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Cherry Tree Carol
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Christmas Music Playlists with Peter, Paul & Mary Songs

A'soalin' We Will Go

There aren't that many live Christmas recordings that have woven their way into the fabric of our holiday soundtrack (though Bruce Springsteen's 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town' does spring to mind) so Peter, Paul & Mary's 'A Holiday Celebration' is something to be treasured. Released in 1988 and featuring the 200-strong New York Choral Society and a full orchestra it was originally released on video (called 'Peter, Paul & Mary Holiday Concert') following its broadcast on network TV in the United States. Thankfully a DVD release of this gorgeous concert came out in 2011.

Such is the wonderful sense of togetherness it is a wonder that something like ‘A Holiday Celebration’ has not been attempted again. With handclaps greeting the intro and outro’s of each song you get the genuine feeling of actually been there at the original show. It all starts out in euphoric fashion with the trio harmonising against a backdrop of a chorus of voices on ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’. It may be a pity that the album’s highlight arrives this early but then there are moments of inspiration to be found all over ‘A Holiday Celebration’ like the deeply affecting and note perfect rendition of ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel’.

The trio included some odd selections such as a rendition of Bob Dylan's 'Blowin' In The Wind', gorgeous though it is and a big hit for them in the sixties, for a Christmas album. There are also a couple of Hanukkah songs giving the piece the sense of inclusiveness and distinguishing it from your commoner gardener Christmas release. Mary Travers unforgettable reading of ‘I Wonder As I Wander’ will stick in your memory for the longest time while ‘’Twas The Night Before Christmas’ will have all eyes aglow.

Prior to ‘A Holiday Celebration’s eighties release PPM had released a Christmas single in the grand old tradition of the season in 1969. ‘The Marvelous Toy’ may have told a well-trodden tale of a childhood Christmas scene but with harmonies this close and chords picked with intentional softness because anything more forceful might smash the serenity and unbridled joy. To make matters even better the single contained another original on the b-side called ‘Christmas Dinner’ which was a heartstring puller that told the story of a little boy who shared his yuletide feast with a lonely old lady. Such was ‘Christmas Dinner’s impact that it was turned into an animated short by Will Vinton called ‘A Christmas Gift’ in 1980.

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