Five ways to musically acknowledge Christmas without listening to Christmas music


1. Listen to Zuzu’s Petals. This seminal Minneapolis all-female power trio fronted by Laurie Lindeen—later to become Mrs. Paul Westerberg and author of the memoir Petal Pusher—had a name inspired by the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life.

2. Listen to Johnny Ace. The gifted Memphis-born bluesman accidentally shot himself while goofing around with a pistol (“It’s okay! Gun’s not loaded…see?”) backstage at the City Auditorium in Houston on Christmas Day, 1954.

3. Listen to Annie Lennox, Cab Calloway, Dido, or Tony Martin. All born on December 25.

4. Listen to the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack. The 1993 stop-motion movie musical looks at Christmas from the perspective of the residents of Halloween Town, who tragically misunderstand the nature of the holiday when they replace Santa Claus and try to run Christmas themselves.

5. Listen to the rest of Messiah. Handel’s 1741 oratorio has become a Christmas standard, but only a relatively short passage is actually about the birth of Christ. Skip scenes three and four in Part I, and you’re still left with 14 scenes about the rest of Jesus’s life. It’s all good stuff, and you never have to stand up.