51CmB1+M35L.jpgB.B. King – “Merry Christmas Baby” – (2001)

Yes, this is the same “Merry Christmas Baby” that Bruce Springsteen made famous. Except that it’s different. Instead of that upbeat E. Street Band thing he had going on, B.B. King made it his own, in that familiar bluesy way.

B.B. King – “Chains and Things” – (1970)

Let’s start by all agreeing that a guitar made out of a watermelon would be delicious. Indianola Mississippi Seeds was B.B. King’s 18th (!) studio album and it’s some of his finest work. The album only had eight tracks, and this was one of three charting singles. It reached #45 on the Pop Singles chart and #6 on the even-racist-for-1970 Black Singles chart (the highest position of any song on the album). Another reason this album is amazing? The people who played on it: B.B. King, Leon Russell, Carole King, and Joe Walsh, among others.

#14 – Bruce Springsteen – “Merry Christmas Baby” – (1989)

A Very Special Christmas was an album put together to benefit the Special Olympics. The Boss’s “Merry Christmas Baby” is tops on the album (barely) – mostly because of the raging saxophone and the belted lyrics. There is a short instrumental intro and then Bruce does a little talking building to it, then at about the 1:07 mark he lets loose the title of the song – which is one of the most rewarding moments in song. Bruce also did quite a famous version of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” and don’t forget to check out B.B. King’s bluesy version of “Merry Christmas Baby.” A Very Special Christmas had a string of other hits as well. There was the Eurythmics somewhat irritating version of “Winter Wonderland” and Bob Seger’s okay version of “The Little Drummer Boy.” But I think the real gem of the album is John Mellencamp’s rockin’ version of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” which even if it had different lyrics, it would still be an awesome song. The music just rocks.