My favorite non-traditional pop Christmas song: Paul McCartney's Wonderful Christmas Time. Some other Holiday favorites: Arthur Fiedler's Christmas album, and the Blue Note jazz Yule Struttin' collection. I also love John Lennon’s Happy Christmas War is Over, and, on the more obscure side, Tim O'Brien's Making Plans from the Sugar Plums collection on Sugar Hill records -- a beautiful little gem and a model of great songwriting. But my all-time favorite Christmas album, one that I've listened to all year long for many years now, is Bela Fleck's Jingle All The Way. It's actually my favorite album of the Flecktones except maybe their first one. Just a great album. One of Bela's best. And that is saying a lot.
And here's what I wrote about it in the Chicago Tribune for their 2008 "Best CDs of the Year" feature:
BELA FLECK & THE FLECKTONES: JINGLE ALL THE WAY
Fleck returns to his first label, Rounder, for a rarity--a holiday album that transcends the genre. The Tuvan Alash Ensemble, bassist and MacArthur "Genius" Edgar Meyer, and mandolin/clarinet iconoclast Andy Statman join the Flecktones for a wild and wooly jaunt through a winter hinterland, including a "12 Days of Christmas" that matches each day with its appropriate time signature, an archetypal Flecktones touch.