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Music Review: Willie Nelson – The Classic Christmas Album

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Willie Nelson has the perfect voice for classic Christmas music. It’s so warm and inviting and comfortable, it makes you want to put the CD on, pour yourself some eggnog, and relax by the light of the tree.

The Classic Christmas Collection includes 16 songs which Nelson has recorded for Columbia Records over the years, including all of 1979’s Christmas offering, Pretty Paper. There are also two duets with his sister, Bobbie Nelson, “Away in a Manger” and “Joy to the World.” All the other numbers are sung by Nelson alone. This is the first compilation of the Columbia recordings, which makes it a special treat for fans.

Except for “Christmas Blues” and “A Dreamer’s Holiday,” all of these songs are well-loved classics, even including Nelson’s own guilt-inducing “Pretty Paper,” which will make you want to give generously to every homeless person you see for the entire holiday season, if not for life.

You’ll find “Frosty the Snowman,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Winter Wonderland,” “Jingle Bells,” “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” “White Christmas,” and “Blue Christmas” among the favorites. There are also beloved carols such as “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” and “Silent Night, Holy Night,” in addition to the two duets mentioned above. The arrangements are simple and the songs still sound just like the versions many of us grew up with.

There’s even a great version of “It’s A Wonderful World,” which in recent years seems to be having a renaissance as a seasonal song and which certainly suits the mood here.

Nelson is one of those elite performers who can cross genre lines, merging pop and country with a touch of blues and a bit of crooning. For years, he has been pleasing audiences with his easy-going, relaxed style and this collection will please every Nelson fan and every fan of traditional Christmas music. Add it to your holiday playlist and let Nelson remove much of the stress of the season and remind you of its simple joy.

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About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, and Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.