Without the Hub, we might never have heard Adam Sandler’s legendary “Chanukah Song” (well, we like to think this could be true). The funnyman got his start in Boston, doing spontaneous stand-up comedy at a local comedy club.
In light of the holiday season, and in honor of the former “Saturday Night Live” star and producer of Hub-area movies like “Grown Ups” and “That’s My Boy,” we’ve rounded up a slew of other musical acts with Boston ties that have performed holiday tunes. Take a gander, and let us know your favorite Boston bands and holiday songs.
Pictured: Sandler performed “The Chanukah Song” on a “Saturday Night Live” segment called “Weekend Update” on Dec. 3, 1994.
A sample of “The Chanukah Song”:
I wrote a song for all those nice little Jewish kids who don’t get to hear any Chanukah songs
Here We Go...
Put on your yarmulkeHere comes Chanukah
So much funukah
To celebrate Chanukah Next
Dropkick Murphys, one of the Hub’s best known groups, played a small set in the Globe’s Media Lab as part of the RadioBDC Live in the Lab concert series Dec. 6.
A sample of “The Season’s Upon Us”:
There’s bells and there’s holly, the kids they’re gung-ho
Tru love finds a kiss beneath fresh mistletoe
Some family’s are messed up, while others are fine
If you think yours is crazy, well you should see mine
From left: Dropkick Murphys members Al Barr, Ken Casey, and James Lynch, performed during the Boston Pops Fourth of July concert rehearsal at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade in Boston, July 3, 2012. Next
J. Geils Band
The J. Geils Band, which formed in Worcester in 1967, recorded a Christmas song under the pseudonym “The Snowballs” in 1980. The band’s front man, Peter Wolf, sings on the track that there’s going to be “lots of noise, Christmas trees and lots of toys” at the party. Sounds like a fun night to us! The group performed Dec. 3 at Boston’s House of Blues in a fund-raiser to benefit the upcoming WBCN documentary, “The American Revolution.”
A sample of “Come on to the Christmas Party”:
Gonna be all night long, good fun can’t go wrong
Lots to do, lots to see, come on it’s all for free
Come on to the Christmas party
Pictured (from left): J. Geils and Peter Wolf performed at the Bank of America Pavilion in Boston on Aug. 6, 2011. Next
Boston-born James Taylor and his brother, Livingston Taylor, have both performed holiday hits in the past. “Sweet Baby” James’s 2006 rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” found its way onto our list. Watch the video and sing along. If you need a refresher, read a sample of the song’s lyrics below.
A sample from “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light
From now on, our troubles will be out of sight
Pictured: James Taylor performed during a campaign event in Boston for Senate-elect Elizabeth Warren on Oct. 24, 2012. NextNext
Livingston Taylor, who is 12 years younger than his brother James, released “A Cabaret Christmas” in 1993. The holiday album has tracks on it like “Winter Wonderland” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” Although we couldn’t find somewhere to listen to the tracks, if you’re a big Livingston fan, you can purchase the album on Rhapsody.
Pictured: Livingston Taylor performed on Dec. 3, 2012, at the House of Blues at a fund-raiser to benefit “The American Revolution,” a film about WBCN. Next
New Kids on the Block
Boston’s New Kids on the Block sing one of our favorite holiday tracks in “Funky, Funky Christmas.” The band performed the track off the boy band’s 1990 album, “Merry, Merry Christmas” on “The Arsenio Hall Show” in the early ’90s. Who can resist singing along with Donnie, Danny, Jordan, Joey, and Jonathan on a Christmas track? Not us.
Sample of “Funky, Funky Christmas”:
Sneaking downstairs on Christmas Eve
I saw a sight that you just wouldn’t believe
St. Nick by the fireplace, dusting off his head with a frown on his face
He said ‘hey,’ I said ‘what?’, he said ‘you,’ I said ‘what?’
He said ‘you left the fireplace on and I burnt my butt!’
Pictured: The CD cover for the New Kids on the Block "Merry Merry Christmas" album. Next
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones formed in Boston in 1983. The group will be joined by fellow local band The Dogmatics on Dec. 29 for the first evening of a three-night Hometown Throwdown series hosted by RadioBDC at the House of Blues. The Bosstones have covered the Dogmatics’ Christmas song "X-Mas Time (Sure Don't Feel Like It)” in the past — could we smell a fun duet? It may be out of the question since the show is after Christmas, but we’ll put it on our list for Santa. You can listen to both band’s versions below. Warning: this one may be more suitable for the Scrooges of the world.
Sample of “X-Mas Time (Sure Don’t Feel Like It)” :
Down in Filene’s Basement
Pretend I’m shopping for a friend
This time of year means nothing
You’ve got nothing you can spend
Pictured: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones performed during the 2011 Hometown Throwdown at the House of Blues in Boston. Next
Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler
Although the Bad Boys from Boston have never recorded a Christmas album, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler found a way to get in on the holiday action a few years back. An animated version of Tyler sang “Rockin’ On Top of the World” at the end of the 2004 beloved book-turned-film “The Polar Express.”
A sample of “Rockin’ On Top of the World”:
Up here where it’s freezin’, everybody needs some heat
No more ringy dingy, time to get up on your feet
Pictured: Steven Tyler’s character rocked out in “The Polar Express.” Next
Foxborough’s own Joanna Levesque, better known as JoJo, released an exclusive cut of “The Christmas Song” to ThatGrapeJuice.net last year. The 21-year-old Massachusetts native also sang a pair of holiday songs for the 2004 “Christmas in Washington” special, which aired on TNT. Take a look at each of the performances below and let us know which video is your favorite.
A sample of “Sleigh Ride”
Just hear those sleigh bells jingling, ring-ting-tingling too
Come on it’s lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you
Outside the snow is falling and friends are calling “you hoo”
Come on it’s lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you
Pictured: JoJo performed at the Front Row—STYLE 360 spring 2013 fashion show on Sept. 11, 2012, in New York City. Next
New Edition, which was recently honored with a lifetime achievement award by the Soul Train Awards, found success with hits like “Cool It Now” and “Candy Girl” in the ’90s, but the Boston boy band also found time to record a holiday album titled “Christmas All Over the World.” Tracks on the 1995 CD include “All I Want for Christmas is My Girl” and “Give Love on Christmas Day.” We found a video from 1985 of the group on the show “Solid Gold” performing a track called “It’s Christmas All Over the World”.
Sample of “It’s Christmas All Over the World”:
“When Santa’s flyin’ in his magic sleigh,
Goes all around the world in just a day,
From the North Pole to the southern tip,
He makes his trip with love to give away
’Til Tuesday singer and current solo artist Aimee Mann’s soothing voice on “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is a warm welcome to our holiday round-up. The singer formed her band ’Til Tuesday in Boston in the ’80s (after dropping out of Berklee) and made an appearance in the Hub on Dec. 3 to play at the House of Blues for the WBCN “American Revolution” benefit concert.
A sample of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”:
Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light,
From now on our troubles will be out of sight
Pictured: Mann performed at The Saban Free Clinic's Gala Honoring ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee And Bob Broder on Nov. 19, 2012. Next
Boston’s own alternative rock band, Guster, recorded a seasonal single written by band member Ryan Miller called “Tiny Christmas Tree.” The song was also featured in a Target commercial. The band formed in 1991.
A sample of “Tiny Christmas Tree”:
So pull the shades and set the mood,
With candlelight and Chinese food
“It’s a Wonderful Life” plays on loop,
The makings of a perfect Christmas time
Pictured: Guster performed at the Bank of America Pavilion in Boston on Aug. 12, 2011. Next
“American Idol” season 9 finalist Siobhan Magnus took her talents to Philadelphia in 2011 for its Thanksgiving Day Parade, where she sang “Merry Christmas, Baby.” The Cape Cod native sang from a float adorned with larger-than-life holiday kittens and was accompanied by the Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders.
Sample of “Merry Christmas, Baby”:
Merry Christmas, baby
You sure do treat me nice
I feel just like I’m living in paradise
Feel real good tonight
I got music on the radio
Pictured: Magnus served ice cream at Brighton’s 3 Scoops Cafe in Oct. 2011, as part of an event to support the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Next
The late Grammy-winning Donna Summer, who was born in Dorchester, put out a Christmas album titled “Christmas Spirit” in 1994 that includes renditions of “White Christmas” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” Our favorite from the compilation has to be “The Christmas Song,” though, and we found a video of Summer performing it from un undated ABC show. Summer died after a battle with cancer on May 17, 2012.
A sample of “The Christmas Song”:
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost nipping at your nose,
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir,
And folks dressed up like Eskimos
Pictured: Summer performed during the David Foster and Friends concert on Oct. 15, 2010, in Las Vegas. Next
Billy Squier was born in Wellesley and went on to record his hit, “The Stroke,” in 1981, but he also recorded “Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You” and “White Christmas” the same year. We found a video of Squier singing “Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You” on MTV in the ’80s. Enjoy!
Sample of “Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You”:
On the corner carolers are singing,
There’s a touch of magic in the air
From grown-up to minor, no one could be finer
Times are hard but no one seems to care
Pictured: Squier posed on a New York rooftop on March 13, 1996. Next
Local band The Whiskey Boys recorded an ode to Hanukkah, called “Light One Candle.” The song by the Bluesy duo from Boston appeared on the compilation album titled “A High Life Holiday,” which showcased local artists’ holiday songs, including one by Comanchero and another by the Summer Villains. “Light One Candle” is a bit more serious than Sandler’s quirky piece. Check it out below.
A sample of “Light One Candle":
Don’t let the light go out
It’s lasted for so many years!
Don’t let the light go out,
Let it shine through our love and our tears! Next
Folk legend Joan Baez recorded a holiday record titled “Noel,” which was originally released in 1966. Her soulful songs like “Down in Yon Forest” are still in rotation for many fans of the singer who got her start singing in Belmont-area coffee shops when she was 17. She later dropped out of Boston University to pursue her singing career.
Sample of “Down in Yon Forest”:
Down in yon forest there stands a hall
The bells of paradise I hear them ring
It’s covered all over with purple and pall
And I love my Lord Jesus above everything
Pictured: Baez and performed at Symphony Hall in Boston on Nov. 6, 2011. Next
Ipswich band “The Fools” put out a Christmas album in 1992 called “Christmas Toons,” with tracks like “X-mas With a Bottle and a Jukebox” and “Norburt the Nearsighted Reindeer.” This unconventional holiday record is chock full of hilarious tracks that will liven up any holiday party. Take a listen to a song off the album titled, “Rockin’ in a Christmas New Year,” below.
Sample of “Rockin’ in a Christmas New Year”:
When we started this band we thought we’d work real hard and go to the top,
And have a very nice ride
Well time went by we got our way, we went to the top for just one day,
But we fell, on the other side
And people said ‘what can be wrong, they must be dumb, they’re out of songs,
I guess their brains are fried’
But we’re rockin’ in a Christmas New Year
Pictured: Boston band "The Fools." Next
Surf-rocker and guitar legend Dick Dale was born in Boston and raised in Quincy. The 75-year-old singer is still touring but we doubt he ever performs “Silent Night” any more. We found a rare early gem of Dale singing the holiday tune for your listening pleasure.
Sample of “Silent Night”:
Silent night, Holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin, mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Pictured: Dale, known as "The King of the Surf Guitar," performed at B.B. King Blues Club in New York on May 27, 2007. Back to the beginning
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