JT’s 25 Albums of Christmas: Nos. 6-8

When My Heart Finds Christmas, Harry for the Holidays, What a Night! A Christmas Album, Harry Connick, Jr.

We need to play a little catch up today, and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather catch up with more than Mr. Harry Connick, Jr. Harry always sounds good no matter what he’s singing, but the man really shines when it comes to the holidays. And in the generous spirit of said holidays, he has seen fit to bequeath unto us no less than three Christmas albums: 1993’s When My Heart Finds Christmas, 2003’s Harry for the Holidays and 2008’s What a Night! A Christmas Album. And, yes. You need all three.

 

Harry’s first – and still my personal favorite – When My Heart Finds Christmas is a modern classic and a firmly entrenched staple in holiday music stable. While the album features great versions of classics like “The Little Drummer Boy,” “Ave Maria,” “O Holy Night” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” what makes the album a real knockout for me are the album’s brilliant Connick-penned originals like the wistful title song, the rollicking “(It Must’ve Been Ol’) Santa Claus,” the gospel-soaked “I Pray On Christmas” and the stunning “The Blessed Dawn of Christmas Day.” A classic through and through.

It was 10 years before Connick released a Christmas follow-up, but Harry for the Holidays was well worth the wait. Harry serves up great mid-century classics like “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Silver Bells,” “The Christmas Waltz” and “Blue Christmas” alongside more stellar originals like the reverent “I Come with Love.” He even throws in the left-field “Nature Boy” – not a Christmas song per se, but considering the lyrical content, it’s an unexpectedly good fit for the season and an inspired seasonal choice.

What a Night! A Christmas Album closes out Connick’s “holy trinity” of Christmas albums with another top-notch selection of songs and arrangements. Connick really knows how to arrange a song, and there’s evidence all over the place here to prove it, especially on a rollicking piano-based New Orleans-take on “Deck the Halls.” Connick also covers seasonal greats like “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Please Come Home for Christmas,” “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies” and “Winter Wonderland,” pairs up the popular “Let There Be Peace on Earth” with his own “Song for the Hopeful,” and offers up another batch of fun originals like “Santariffic” and “Christmas Day.”

If Harry isn’t the modern Mr. Christmas, I’m not sure who is. See for yourself here, here and here.

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