Lou Rawls: Merry Christmas, Baby

I start listening to my Christmas music starting the day after Halloween. I kicked things off this year with the Fania All-Stars “Asalto Navidad” (more on that in another post), but the next disc I hit was “Merry Christmas, Baby” by Lou Rawls. Even though the temperature outside was a sunny 79 degrees, Lou and the Crew put me in a holiday mood.

There’s no question: Lou Rawls has got a golden throat. He’s got some musicians that really cook backing him up, so it’s class all the way. I play this disc straight through, no questions asked (except for skipping “Little Drummer Boy”, the one Christmas standard I simply can’t stand). No complaints at all, so let me get to the outstanding tracks. “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” really swings, and I love the big finish on it. “Little Boy Dear” is tender and caring, a perfect song for tucking the kids into bed on Christmas Eve. I love Lou’s “Jingle Bells”, and the a capella “Auld Lang Syne” warms the heart beautifully.

But there’s one song that I put on repeat every time I get to it, and I can play it over and over 20 times or more. “Good Time Christmas” is that song. It’s an exuberant celebration of life and that one line, “Mother I know you been prayin’/ The Lord has seen me through” makes me so happy to hear every time because it’s true: one more year, one more time the Lord’s seen me through. Christmas is a time to celebrate, and this song is a song to play at that celebration.

Lou Rawls puts his distinctive interpretation on the old standards and I love what he does with them. It’s a great mix that balances fun and reverence, and I guarantee it’ll get your Christmas mood up and running strong from here to December 25th.

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