Christmas 2003. My dear dear friend Keith, who I had been spending nearly all my time with that year, and I drove from California to Utah together for the holidays. I had just met a guy a few weeks earlier that I was very excited about and I was going to be moving to Boston pretty much the instant I got back from the break. Needless to say, it was an emotional season.
Keith was the first person I knew with an iPod and we figured out how to make it work in my car. We set off super early in the morning and had about 10 hours of talking and laughing with someone who at the time probably knew me better than anyone else on earth. Keith was the boy who taught me that we probably have dozens of soulmates and that they aren't always romantic.
We listened to Death Cab for Cutie on the 405 and a fantastic This American Life segment on fiascos in the Gorge between Las Vegas and St. George. We took turns driving. At one point Keith fell asleep and I took goofy photos of him WITH MY FILM CAMERA. I still have one of those prints in a box somewhere and the sight his mop of red hair splayed out all over the pillow in the front seat always tugs at my heart just a little bit.
Keith used to make Christmas mixes and because of that iPod, we had tons of holiday tunes to keep us company as well. One of them was a song called "Just Like Christmas" by the band Low. It became one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs. It's fun and upbeat and what could possible sound better than Christmas in Sweden?
So this February I was doing my hair in a hotel room in Amsterdam while Dr. Lance was out getting breakfast and a rogue holiday song started playing on my iPhone. I don't know who gave me a David Bazan cover of "Just Like Christmas" but instead of skipping it I let it go and pretty soon I was not really doing my hair anymore but trying to control my tears.
I got a chance to see David Bazan play a living room show earlier this year thanks to my pal Heather. Afterwards I went up and told him how much I loved his cover of this song. He got all excited and told me he had recorded that for an AV Club Undercover special edition of Holiday songs and what a fun experience it has been. I am a huge fan of the Undercover series, Christmas music, nice musicians and extra nice memories so I'm certain this version of that song will be on every holiday playlist I make for the rest of forever.
So in the spirit of the time of year I love the very most-Here are just a couple more of my favorites.
Seryn-Go Tell it on the Mountain
I fell in love with Seryn in a tiny club in Colorado Springs last summer. This version of Go Tell it on the Mountain is so good it's actually lodged firmly in the top 25 list of most played songs on my iTunes.
The Band-Christmas Must Be Tonight
Should I even need to explain why a holiday song by The Band is awesome?
Amy Grant-Love Has Come
Thanks to my mother I believe I know every word to every song on every Amy Grant Christmas Album. I honestly can't tell anymore if they are even good but just hearing the first few bars of this song I am 12 years old belting it out in the living room while babysitting. My roommate Brenda and I got to see this live a few years ago and meet Amy afterwards. Holidays probably could have ended that year and I'd be fine.
Barenaked Ladies and Sarah Mclachlan-God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
I never, ever get tired of this version of this song. Ever. It's so fun and features the two artists that feature VERY prominently in the soundtrack of my college life.
Sufjan Stevens-Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
This isn't reall a Christmas song but Sufjan Stevens put it on his massive holiday collection years ago and it's actually probably my favorite one now. I have a BYU choir version of this song that is much more epic and I love that one too but there is something about this version that gets right into my bloodstream. The lyrics of this song are a fairly perfect description of my faith and I will never forget the hour I spent once upon a time listening to the director the MTC choir explain it to a bunch of homesick missionaries. No wonder everyone who goes on a mission ends up wishing this was in our hymn book.