Americana artist Boo Ray shares with us his Christmas playlist of some of his favorite holiday tunes. See what he has to say about these great song below and his Spotify playlist is directly below that.
While you're there, make sure to check out Boo Ray's new song "Don't Look Back" from his forthcoming (Feb.15) album Tennessee Alabama Fireworks (which can be preordered here)!
Elizabeth Cook & Boo Ray "All Strung Out Like Christmas Lights"
Because Elizabeth Cook is the coolest
Dwight Yoakam "Santa Can't Stay"
I love the line “he threw a present really hard and almost hit mama’s new boyfriend Ray”. This song’s full Yoakam’s signature rockabilly vocal licks too, which I love. That 80’s production will complement any Christmas sweater, from the gaudiest candy-cane/snowman aplique to the homeliest moth eaten Uncle Fester pea-green cardigan.
Merle Haggard "If We Make It Through December"
Since I was a kid i’ve always liked how contemporary and musical Merle Haggard’s arrangements and songs are. There’s a singer songwriter quality to Hag and an virtuoso ensemble sound akin to the way James Taylor, Leland Sklar and Jim Keltner made music sound.
Erin Enderlin "Cowboy Christmas"
Cowboy songs have some specific criteria for me. The language, vernacular and meter have to be just right. I heard a Tommy Lee Jones interview where said the language of Cormac McCarthy’s characters is perfect. Erin’s Line “Barb wire and fence posts like garland on trees” gets right to me.
Nikki Lane "FaLaLaLaLove ya"
I totally dig the song. The Christmas bells, the production, the melody and Nikki’s vocal are real stylized like a Hollywood Christmas TV Show number with fake snow falling and lens flares in holiday colored lights.
John Prine "Everything Is Cool"
John Prine’s meter is kind of like what Brandlford Marsalis said about Louis Armstrong’s minimalist trumpet playing, “There’s a whole lot of information in those couple of notes.” “I was walking down the road... man” is so plain t’s actually funny” almost like a Steven Wright bit. In contrast, the next verse “I saw a hundred thousand black birds just a flying through the sky- they seem to form a teardrop from a black-haired angel’s eye” is brooding poet/ bleeding heart romantic territory. I love that Prine covers those two nearly opposite poles
of perspective with complete dexterity.
JD McPherson "All The Gifts I Need"
Great sounding recording. I dig JD’s songs and style, the way his vocal melody rides on Jason Smay’s drum beat is a thing for sure. The songs got a smart lighthearted spirit to it.
Johnny Cash Family Christmas "Opening Dialogue"
The first thing that really got to me about Johnny Cash was that antique automotive/farm equipment machine sound that he made with his band, seeming to emulate the sound of V-8 motors, tractors, horses hooves, and the click clack of trains. It's powerful, clever, creative, real singer/songwriter sounding, intricate and simple at the same time. Then I got into his rockabilly look and wearing all black. But it's always really been about the sound of his voice and his story telling. Even as a kid I'd watch that gospel series he filmed in Jerusalem because I just liked the sound of his voice and listening to the way he'd spin a yarn.
Corb Lund "Just Me And The Ponies"
Excellent cowboy Christmas song. Corb's cowboy correct to me like Wynn Varble, Willie Nelson & Chris Ledoux are. That stuff has to be handled just right; the meter, vocabulary, vernacular and stoic nature of the story teller.
The Band "Christmas Must Be Tonight"
Rick Danko's bass sound just slays me. It's the deadest, most flatulent sounding thing ever. I'm damned crazy about it. I dig Danko's vocal on the verse a bunch and I love how Levon's accent and tone jump out on "how a little baby boy"... Yeah man this is a perfect ramblin', good stiff eggnog of a song. Cheers!!!
Little Feet "Six Feet Of Snow"
It'd makes sense to me if someone called Lowell George a musical humorist. His subtle, clever impish wit is my favorite. The honk, plink and twang of the guitars on this track are funny as hell to me. It's absurd and wonderful because of it, and Lowell leans into it too with lines like "It's raining in stilettos from here clear down to Mexico". Maybe if you could trace the DNA of a particular kind of humor Lowell George and Billy Gibbon might be kin.
Lindi Ortega "Blue Christmas"
The 6th tuned lap steel/dobro can't help but suggest the Hawaiian pacific sound. And who doesn't want to waller in the extra bittersweetness on another holiday not spent on a deserted island with Lindi Ortega. Can you imagine what she'd look like wearing coconuts and palm leaves? For real though, Lindi Ortega's Christmas album "Tennessee Christmas" is a blast.
The Mavericks "Baby Please Come Home"
I'm crazy about The Mavericks and think they're on fire right now musically. Raul sings with a belting cheers and the Christmas bells and sleigh bells through the whole song deliver a fully manic holiday experience. Their whole Christmas album is a must have.
Dale Watson "Santa And My Semi"
Yep, lets finish off this playlist with a swanky texas sounding Dale Watson number. I dig when certain Texas singers have a particular kind of crooning voice and the way their accent sounds real Trucker. Merry Christmas and shiny side up to all the truckers out there working in tough weather this holiday season.