Audiophiles: Vintage country Christmas

Elizabeth Phelan | Staff Writer

Happy holidays, sweet Student Life readers. Here’s a list of Christmas and holiday songs that have an early country-style flavor to them, so you can yearn for the vast expanses of the American West while also keeping your holiday spirit aflame.

“I’m Gonna Tell Santa Claus on You” by Faron Young

In this original song, Young sings about a twisted yet festive punishment he devised for an unfaithful lover. This isn’t the most jolly of holiday songs—mutual unhappiness is guaranteed, as Young sings “you’ll be sad, and I’ll be blue.” However, the song is bouncy and infectiously catchy, and is all around a lot of fun.

“Two-Step ‘Round The Christmas Tree” by Michael Martin Murphy

Fiddles and bright vocals create a bright and lively musical song about a rambunctious Christmas Eve. “A ‘silent night’ is not for me,” Murphy sings, and while this song seems to verge on the rowdy, it is ultimately about celebrating the holidays with loved ones, in whatever form is meaningful to you.

“They Shined Up Rudolph’s Nose” by Johnny Horton

Written in 1959, Horton sings a charming and innocent song about spreading the Christmas spirit. A simple yet joyful song featuring a delightful piano solo and a surprisingly intricate vocal and instrumental arrangements.

“Pretty Paper” by Willie Nelson

A slower, heartfelt song detailing that within and beneath the holiday bustle for presents, the meaning of the season is about generosity and spending time with loved ones. “Pretty Paper” is more emotionally complex than most Christmas songs, but the earnestness and humanity it conveys makes it worth a listen.

“Santa’s Gonna Come In A Stagecoach” by Buck Owens

“We live way out west,” Owens sings, “and it didn’t snow out here.” Rather than fly in his sleigh, this song describes how Santa will instead make the journey west in a bell-emblazoned stagecoach. Full of liveliness and twang, this song is a wholesome and delightful take on the Santa story.

“Blue Christmas” by Hank Snow

Snow gives a soulful rendition of this Christmas classic. His characteristically velvety voice captures the sorrow of the song better than any other western cover I’ve heard (and there are many, many western and western-adjacent covers of this song out there).