• courtesy of Motown Records
  • Marvin Gaye

I don’t have a blanket disdain for Christmas music like most folks I know. As a kid I eagerly awaited the end of Thanksgiving because it marked the date I could start irritating my mother by playing her holiday records. That doesn’t mean I have much of a stomach for the holiday music piped in at every retail establishment around the corner—I find most of it cloying and schmaltzy. I’m much pickier when it comes to holiday music recorded over the last five or so decades. With some notable exceptions—”Father Christmas” by the Kinks, “Holiday Wrapping” by the Waitresses, “This Christmas” by Donny Hathaway, and anything James Brown ever came up with—I hate most modern Christmas music. Luckily, through his mixtapes and local radio appearances Chicago holiday music expert Andy Cirzan has opened the gates with loads of other good modern Xmas tunes. I’m kind of shocked that it was only last year that I first heard “Purple Snowflakes,” a loosely themed holiday tune by Marvin Gaye—it turned up on last year’s mix, Santa Soul. The song just adds new lyrics to Gaye’s 1964 song “Pretty Little Baby,” and it shows what’s crucial to a good Christmas song: its lyrics are more than seasonally flavored, and it can sound good any time of the year. After the jump you can check out this Gaye gem, today’s 12 O’Clock Track. Cirzan and fellow holiday-music enthusiast John Soss have already made their annual appearances on WXRT and Sound Opinions, but you can download a copy of Cirzan’s latest mix here, and while the link expires on January 1, WDCB will air some previously recorded shows this Sunday from 1 to 3 PM and on Christmas Eve from 10 PM to midnight.