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my baby left me, start'd me drinkin' on christmas day
December 20, 2011 6:23 AM   Subscribe

When most folks think of "Christmas music" it's doubtful that their next thought will be "the blues", but along with "my baby" or "bad luck" or "leavin' in the morning", bluesmen have long included Christmas as lyric inspiration. Which bluesmen? Well... Sonny Boy Williamson, Freddie King, Blind Blake, John Lee Hooker, Lightnin' Hopkins, Little Milton, B.B. King, Smokey Hogg, Charley Jordan, and last but certainly not least, one of the most influential early bluesmen, Blind Lemon Jefferson.
posted by flapjax at midnite (23 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

Sonny Boy's Christmas Blues is a drinking song and if you actually drink like some of these cats sing about drinking, my empirical research suggests you won't know what day it is.

Thanks flapjax. After I have a drink - or two, I'll dig into the rest of those links.
posted by three blind mice at 6:42 AM on December 20, 2011

Don't forget...Back Door Santa
posted by kenaldo at 6:45 AM on December 20, 2011

Thank you for this.

One of the local college radio stations has been playing similar non-traditional versions of traditional Christmas music and it has been great.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:46 AM on December 20, 2011

Sonny Boy Williamson has a better Christmas song - Santa Claus is one of his most famous songs.
posted by Flood at 7:01 AM on December 20, 2011

I grew up listening to the Blue Yule compilation around the holidays and have always wanted to add additional Christmas blues songs to my library, so this post is a timely boon. Thanks!
posted by daikaisho at 7:15 AM on December 20, 2011

Excellent stuff, flapjax. Allow me to add my favorite, Little Esther and Mel Walker singing Far Away Christmas Blues. (Apologies for the poor sound quality, couldn't find a better version.)
posted by crookedneighbor at 7:34 AM on December 20, 2011

Great post. I love Christmas blues - especially this (don't be put off by the fact that it's Elvis, it's truly awesome).
posted by biscotti at 7:54 AM on December 20, 2011

Fans of this post will likely like Where Will You Be Christmas Day, a compilation released several years ago on Dust-to-Digital. It isn't confined to blues, one of my favorites on the cd is calypso, but it's all great.
posted by OmieWise at 8:18 AM on December 20, 2011

The local CBC morning show yesterday played a Christmas song by Johnny & Edgar Winter.
The version they played on the radio was one they'd recorded when they were just 15 & 17; not sure if this is it.
posted by Flashman at 8:49 AM on December 20, 2011

On my list are these two dusty, bluesy Christmas nuggets!

Jimmy Butler's Trim Your Tree and Little Esther Philips' Far Away Christmas Blues
posted by herrC at 9:08 AM on December 20, 2011

I just woke up, and starting thinking about what Pandora station I should create for my pre-holiday apartment cleaning marathon today. This is perfect! And I appreciate all the other people throwing in their suggestions as well. I can't wait to listen to it all.
posted by GastrocNemesis at 9:14 AM on December 20, 2011

When I think of Xmas music, I think of Gene Autry. But, that's just me.
posted by Twang at 9:41 AM on December 20, 2011

I dunno, listenin to the blues done makes me sad.
posted by noaccident at 10:46 AM on December 20, 2011

If you enjoy these selections, check out the God's Eternal Juke Box blog. Their blog team is posting an alternative Christmas song every day this month, including some old R&B, country, ska, and blues.

This blog started after Mark Lamarr's BBC Radio 2 show God's Jukebox went off the air in December 2010. I'm really hoping Mark either gets a new show or contributes to the blog more regularly.
posted by stompadour at 12:24 PM on December 20, 2011

I've long been a fan of the two Alligator Records Christmas albums. Loads of fun and worth picking up, especially since they both feature my favorite working blues band, Chicago's Lil Ed and the Blues Imperials.

Here's "Christmas Time" and "I'm Your Santa."
posted by GamblingBlues at 12:34 PM on December 20, 2011

Thanks for all the cool linkage, people!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:54 PM on December 20, 2011

Eddie C. Campbell: Santa's Messin' With The Kid
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:48 PM on December 20, 2011

Jimmy Reed: Christmas Present Blues
Koko Taylor: Merry, Merry Christmas
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:52 PM on December 20, 2011

Lowell Fulson: I Want To Spend Christmas With You
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:55 PM on December 20, 2011

Victoria Spivey: Christmas Morning Blues
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:56 PM on December 20, 2011

William Clarke: Please Let Me Be Your Santa Claus
Earl King: Santa, Please Don't Let Me Down
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:42 AM on December 21, 2011

Leadbelly: Christmas is A-comin'

Another, more endearing version.
posted by OmieWise at 7:47 AM on December 24, 2011

Bukka White: Christmas Tree Blues
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:13 AM on December 24, 2011

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