Merry Christmas

Andy Williams

CBS Records, 1965

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


There were two major holiday traditions in the Thelen household when I was a little boy. The first was that it was almost a guarantee that I would get sick sometime between the 20th and New Year's Eve, meaning either Christmas or my birthday would be adversely affected. (Sure enough, as I write this, both my wife and I are laid up - my wife with a cold, me possibly with pneumonia. Joy!) The other tradition was that Andy Williams's album Merry Christmas would find its way to our stereo.

When I got my own place, I found a copy of this at my local used record shop (which I still miss since moving away from it), and it too has found a regular place in our Yuletide celebrations. And while this album shows its age at times, it still has some great performances from someone whose influence on popular music might not be recognized by the younger generation.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

I'll always remember this album for Williams's jazzy rendition of "Sleigh Ride," possibly the version I'll always cherish in my life. It truly feels like Williams is having fun with this song - as well as other material scattered throughout this album.

Chances are, if you didn't grow up with Merry Christmas in your album library, some of these tunes might not be as familiar as others are today. Two examples of this are "Christmas Holiday" (another jazzy number which sounds like a lot of fun, even today) and "Some Children See Him". The latter track came from a time when people weren't afraid to talk about the season for what it is - namely, the remembrance of the birth of Jesus. And while this particular number drags a bit for me, it still is nice to hear that someone remembered the season wasn't about commercialism - even though this record is over 30 years old. (Memo to All-Music Guide: I love you guys and your research, but this album was not first released in 1995.)

All of this said, there are moments when Merry Christmas shows its age. Prime example: "Little Altar Boy," a song which drags on far too long (and would probably be prime material for some satirist to record a rather nasty version). Again a song from a time when it was cool to mention religion in a Christmas song, it probably captured the mood well back then (and even I'm not positive when this disc was first released), but today it sounds like a dusty relic.

Still, Merry Christmas has performances which are unforgettable - Williams's renditions of "Winter Wonderland" and "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" come to mind at this moment. And while this particular release would probably please our parents more (depending on how old you are), there's still enough worthy material for today's generation to sit back and give it a spin today.

Some traditions run deep, and I'm still glad that Merry Christmas is a part of mine. (I could, however, live without getting sick - but better me than my daughter. After all, Christmas is for kids.)

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of CBS Records, and is used for informational purposes only.