Last year, I put together a mixtape of 85 holiday songs by New Jersey artists. It was a collection of nearly 5 hours of music from indie artists to some of the biggest stars to ever come from the Garden State. It's nice if you're looking for something to play in the background as you'll get great originals and cover tunes. I'm not doing a new show this year, but wanted to point out some of the holiday songs released in the last year or two. These are by no means all of the holiday tracks released by Jersey artists, but a nice sampling of originals and covers.
Telegraph Hill Records, a label based in Asbury Park and NYC, has put out Telegraph Hill Records, Vol. 04: Season's Greetings - a holiday compilation featuring artists on their label. The album includes songs by Des the Swagmatics, The Foes of Fern, Jarod Clemons and the Late Nights, Keith Egan, Kate Dressed Up, Malibu, Ashley McKinley, Bobby Mahoney and the Seventh Son, Patty C, Natalie Farrell, Carina Leigh, Taylor Tote, Alexander Simone & WHODAT?
Here are five videos from the album which is available here.
As we head into the second Christmas of the covid-19 era, we're reminded that songs from last year are unfortunately as meaningful today as when they were first written. "Merry Christmas, I Guess" by Anthony D'Amato has become the holiday classic nobody wanted, but probably the one we deserve.
Among the original songs released this year include another great holiday track by The Weeklings. "Christmas Day" is a Dylan-inspired rockin' holiday tune with a wonderful lyric video. In 2020, they released the Beatles mash-up holiday track, "Christmas Time Is Here Again" and the original track "Gonna Be Christmas" . In 2017 they released their first holiday tune - "Revolution Wonderland" - a interesting combination of "Winter Wonderland" and "Revolution" by The Beatles.
One of my favorite new releases is "The Other Reindeer" by Amanda Duncan. The song, which features Joanna Burns and Audra Mariel, tells the stories of the reindeer often overlooked by Rudolph...
Eddie Manion is a wonderful sax player that you may know from playing with Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, or Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul. He released "The Lights Are on at Old Saint John's", an original song that pays tribute to his Great Grandfather Patrick Manion and other Irish immigrant railroad workers who built Old St John's Church in Lakehurst (next to the house where he was born). His YoutTube notes say that, "the song is also dedicated to my grandfather Thomas Manion Sr who drove the Seashore's finest train The Blue Comet in the 1920's and 30's and my mother Joan Marie Feldman Manion who left this earth in 2018 and gave Eddie, my brother Gregory Manion and sister Jeanne Manion some of the best Christmases kids could possibly have."
James Dalton, who, in my opinion, has one of the finest voices to come from the Jersey Shore released a wonderful cover of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas".
Michael Brett released a performance video of "Santa's On His Way".
In 2020, Nicole Atkins released an incredible rocking holiday song entitled "Every Single Christmas" which is as close to a modern classic as anything I've heard in a while. In her notes on the song she says, "A couple years ago I had this idea for a Christmas song chorus that reminded me of Brenda Lee and Ronnie Ronette called 'Every Single Christmas.' My good friend JD McPherson, finished the song and included it on his now iconic 50's style holiday record, 'Socks.' Since then, I've always kept hearing it in my head as a fast and wild Christmas punk song... like Cyndi Lauper and Brenda Lee, the spirit of the NY Dolls and the Ramone's 'Palisades Park' all rolled up into a National Lampoon's Christmas movie."
The Bryan Hansen Band featuring Kim Boyko released a great version of "Christmas Wrapping" updated with covid inspired lyrics.
A new version of "Jersey Christmas", written by Gaby Gold and Ben Rauch, was released with an adult choir. The song namechecks several Jersey towns, musicians, and everything from skeeball to diners and the turnpike.
Dan Amato released a holiday EP called "Home for Christmas" which has covers of "Blue Christmas", "Christmas Vacation", "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town", "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas", and "Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)" which is found here.
Thomas Johnston released an album of original holiday tunes called "On This Christmas Day". One of my favorites on the album is "Christmas Without You".
Bon Jovi released "I Wish Everyday Could Be Like Christmas" as a single.
Secret Sound gave us a beautiful version of "Do You Hear What I Hear". I'm not usually a fan of this traditional song, but I love their version! The song had trouble being embedded, but you can find it here.
A little further back, The Cucumbers released "Love and Joy" in 2019.
And Bruce Springsteen released his performance of "Blue Christmas" from the Carousel in Asbury Park. The performance was from 2010, but the video was released in December 2019.
Hopefully these songs help bring some Christmas cheer to you. From everyone at New Jersey Stage, thanks for supporting us this year. If you are an artist from New Jersey be sure to send us your holiday tunes or links to firstname.lastname@example.org - we'll try to highlight as many as we can each year via our radio shows and articles.