Eric Johnson

Eric Johnson

Eric Johnson

With less than a week to go until Christmas, now is a good time to share with you my personal Top 10 Classic Rock Christmas songs.

There are many Christmas songs I love from the old-school “standards artists” like Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams, and the like. These are the songs you would hear inside the mix of Philadelphia’s Classic Rock 102.9 MGK.

Tons of classic rock artists have released their own versions of Christmas hits. Some have made entirely new creations of their own. All I know is that some of the best Christmas music is done by class rockers.

Most of us can’t remember when the “standards artists” songs were new (we were either too young or not born yet). I think most of our MGK audience can remember when all these songs were new! The great thing about Christmas music is that we only hear it for a few weeks each year, so its sound stays somewhat fresh from year to year. Also, we associate these songs with some of the best memories of our lives at a special time of year with family and friends.

So, here is my list, in no particular order, and some of my memories associated with them.

My top 10 Classic Rock Christmas Songs:

  • Wizards In Winter - Trans-Siberian Orchestra

    This piece which mixes elements of classical, and rock was released in 2004. And the first time I heard it was on a TV commercial for TSO, where the music was choreographed with a Christmas light show on a house.

    This song sounds great on MGK and always evokes memories of that commercial!

  • Step Into Christmas - Elton John

    Released in November of 1973, just as Elton’s star was ascending high! Being a big fan of studio production techniques, I thought it was great how Elton pays tribute to the Phil Spector “wall of sound” heard in his 1963 album “A Christmas Gift for You”. That album features awesome pop and r&b holiday hits from Darlene Love, The Ronettes and The Crystals.

  • Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - Bruce Springsteen

    This one brings back great memories for me when I worked at a New Jersey rock station in the early 80’s. It was recorded at CW Post College in Brookville NY in December of 1975. Being born and raised in the Great Garden State, I am naturally a Bruce fan…and love his local beach and boardwalk references—and the good time feel of this live record!

  • Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy - David Bowie & Bing Crosby

    An unlikely pairing of 2 distinct generations! Recorded in September of 1977, Bing passed away 1 month later. It was featured on “Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas” aired November 30, 1977. I’ll never forget watching this with my parents.

  • Christmas Wrapping - The Waitresses

    Another one of my great early radio career memories. And it’s so early 80’s sounding! With a fun story of missed romantic connections!

  • Christmas Baby Please Come Home - U2

    This cover by U2-is my favorite version of this Christmas classic recorded by many!

  • Please Come Home For Christmas - Bon Jovi

    The Eagles version may be the most famous, but not the first. That was the Charles Brown version released in 1960. The Eagles had the bigger hit with it in ’78. But for me (being a Jersey guy) the best is the 1992 Bon Jovi version!

  • 2000 Miles - Pretenders

    From 1984’s “Learning To Crawl”, it was also on the flip side of the single “Middle Of The Road”. It has a haunting sound that evokes a scene of a snowy deserted winter wilderness.

  • Little Dummer Boy - Bob Seger

    There is a lot of great 80’s classic rock Christmas music on 1987’s fundraising album “A Very Special Christmas”. This Seger version of Little Drummer Boy is very well produced and Bob sounds great!

  • Jingle Bell Rock - Hall & Oates

    The song dates to 1957. The Bobby Helms OG version is still one of the most played and purchased holiday hit. Daryl and John did a great job with it in 1983 and has become as much of a classic as the original.

    I also like the fun, campy and silly video.

    One of my wishes this season, that Hall & Oates repair their damaged relationship.

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