Blues music has been around for over one hundred years and it
originated in the African-American communities of the Deep South of
America, meaning that it is influenced by other music that
originated in those areas, such as jazz, country and bluegrass.
Blues music can be found in jazz, rhythm and blues and rock and
roll, and can be characterised by various chord progressions,
specific lyrics, bass lines and instruments. Blues music doesn't
always make for the happiest of Christmas music, but there are a
number of brilliant Christmassy blues songs that could add a little
something different to your Christmas playlist this year. Our
favourite is Merry Christmas Baby, originally by Charles Brown but
covered by Elvis and many more - what's yours?
1) Charles Brown - Merry Christmas Baby
With a laidback, slow and sultry backing track and Charles'
smooth vocals, this is a corker of a Christmas song and a great
example of the genre. It also has a piano 'Jingle Bells'
instrumental interlude, which helps to tie the song back to more
traditional Christmas music. Perfect music for playing in the
background to any Christmas dinner party.
2) Mabel Scott - Boogie Woogie Santa Claus
This is a classic Christmas song by Mabel Scott, an American
gospel and R&B artis, who was married to Charles Brown for two
years from 1949-1951. She's remembered for two songs - Elevator
Boogie, and this Christmas offering, Boogie Woogie Santa Claus.
It's a real jive-style song that is brilliant for sticking on any
Christmas disco playlist - play it when you fancy a Christmas
3) Johnny Moore's Three Blazers - Christmas Eve
Johnny Moore's Three Blazers, made up of Johnny Moore, Charles
Brown and Eddie Williams were a hugely successful and influential
African-American blues group who were around in the 40s and 50s.
Describing a man proposing to his wife, this laidback song from
some of the best vocal blues artists ever is a lovely tune to
listen to this Christmas.
4) Bull Moose Jackson - I'll be Home for Christmas
Beginning with an interpretation of Silent Night, a classic
Christmas carol, the song then moves into a beautiful, lifting song
with lovely lyrics - 'Please have snow, and mistletoe, and presents
on the tree. Christmas Eve will find me, where the love might be'.
The lyrics then go onto describe a man coming home for Christmas,
and it's genuinely a lovely, festive Christmas song. Well worth a
spot on your Christmas playlist.
5) Freddie King - I Hear Jingle Bells
Another song that uses a classic Christmas song as an intro -
this time, it's Jingle Bells. This lovely festive offering from
African-American blues singer and musician Freddie King, thought to
have been born Frederick Christian, who was a very influential
player in the blues genre during the 50s and 60s, is a stunning
Christmas song. Perfect for the whole family, this is yet another
brilliant jive song to add to your Christmas disco playlist.
6) Elvis Presley - Blue Christmas
Probably the most well-known blues singer of our time, the king
of blues, Elvis Presley, is 6th on our list with this Christmas
offering, Blue Christmas. Describing a sad Christmas without his
loved one, this isn't the happiest of Christmas songs, but it's
still a classic.
7) Otis Reading - Merry Christmas, Baby
Written by a blues artist already on our list, Johnny Moore and
originally performed by Johnny Moore and the Three Blazers, we like
this slightly more modern version of the classic. Otis was another
majorly influential singer and musician in the blues and gospel
genre and his open-throated singing paved the way for many other
soul singers of the 1960s. His music was very successful, even
after his death in a plane crash in the late 1960s.
8) Koko Taylor - Merry, Merry Christmas
This incredibly funky song by the Queen of Blues, Koko Taylor,
is a brilliant cross between being laidback and upbeat enough to
dance to. Koko was well known for her distinctive, deep, gravelly
vocals, and this song shows them off wonderfully.
9) Son Seals - Lonesome Christmas
Frank 'Son' Seals, better known as Son Seals was an American
blues musician and singer, well known for both his music and his
rather troublesome home life - he was the only surviving sibling
from 14 children, and his wife also shot him in the jaw. Aside from
that, however, he released this corker of a Christmas song which
really showcased his fantastic vocals. A lovely laidback song,
perfect for playing at night during the festive season.
10) Billy Ward & His Dominoes - Christmas in
You may have already heard this song if you're a fan of Monty
Python - it featured in the Monty Python film, Meaning of Life.
It's a brilliant doo-wop song from vocal group Billy Ward & His
Dominoes, who released many, many records. One of their members
also went on to form international band The Drifters. This
particular Christmassy offering from them is laidback and a little
melancholy, but it's still very festive.
11) The Crystals - Santa Claus is Comin' to Town
One of the most popular Christmas carols ever, sung by carol
singers, used in television adverts and heard on the radio
throughout the Christmas season, Santa Claus is Comin' to Town is
next on our list. This bluesy offering has a saxophone instrumental
interlude and is really a brilliant example of The Crystals'
talent. Listen to it whilst decorating the Christmas tree and
you'll get firmly into the Christmas spirit.
12) Nat King Cole - The Christmas Song
Nat King Cole was well-known around the world for his jazz piano
music, but he owes most of his fame to his soft voice. Even though
he died in 1965, his music is still popular around the world -
especially his Christmas releases. This song, recorded with Natalie
Cole, is a classic - it's relaxed, laidback, and utterly
13) Amos Milburn - Let's Make Christmas Merry,
Amos Milburn, Texan blue singer, songwriter and musician, is
13th on our list with this classic Christmas song very reminiscent
of his usual style - laidback, slow and smooth and ever so slightly
cheeky - this song describes sliding down his lady's chimney and
also feeling her stockings. Perfect for listening to with a glass
of mulled wine in front of the fire.
14) Chuck Berry - Run, Run, Rudolph
Chuck Berry is known for being one of the pioneers of rock and
roll music, defining blues music into the major elements of what we
now know to be rock and roll music. Today, at the age of 85, he
still continues to play live. This classic Christmas offering from
him is festive, frivolous and very, very fun.
15) The Ronettes - Frosty the Snowman
The Ronettes were a 1960s girl group, probably best known for
their song Be My Baby, and they also released this cover of classic
Christmas song Frosty the Snowman - which has also been covered by
the Jackson 5, Bing Crosby and more recently, the Beach Boys. This
version by the Ronettes really showcases their bluesy vocals.