Christmas is definitely one of my favorite times of the year, despite the crazy holiday shoppers, insane schedules to keep and the stress of travel the season brings with it. However, the thought of Loretta Lynn’s “Country Christmas” seems to make all those anxieties disappear.

I’ve always thought of Loretta Lynn as an awesomely warm and caring aunt, much like Rosalind Russell in the film “Auntie Mame.” She’s been there and done that, has all the great stories to tell from her experiences, and is definitely a hip lady you want to listen to.

“Country Christmas” kicks off the festivities with Lynn’s original song by the same name, a swinging tune with pedal steel guitar and jangle-y barroom saloon piano that is a real hit for the holidays. (It’s usually difficult for me to warm up to original Christmas songs, since many of them are forced and quite hokey, but Loretta Lynn’s holiday originals are just as classy as her regular country hits, the kind that make you glad you are with loved ones this time of year.)

Lynn changes speed from the secular to the spiritual with her version of “Away In A Manger” that sounds like it’s straight from the gospel church, reminding you the real reason for the season. Of course, Lynn rocks out the traditional holiday favorites, as well, like “Santa Clause Is Coming To Town,” Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” and “Silver Bells,” which steps out of the country for just a few minutes to enjoy ‘Christmastime in the city.’ And you can’t have a Christmas record without “Frosty The Snowman,” period.

I again find Lynn’s sass and strong demeanor in her holiday originals the real treat of this holiday record, like the fun “To Heck With Ole Santa Clause” and “I Won’t Decorate Your Christmas Tree.” These songs constantly remind me of the wonderful disfunction that comes along with spending the holidays with close and extended family (queue National Lampoon’s “Christmas Vacation.”) Though I enjoy the sharpness of those songs, it’s also not a country record without some sad songs thrown in, too. Lynn does a faithful job to “Blue Christmas” (still better than Elvis’ version) and covers Jackie Webb’s “Christmas Without Daddy” tear for tear.

Lynn isn’t the only one who shines on this record. She is backed up by the legendary Jordinaires, making “Country Christmas” one of the best holiday records to find a permanent place on my turntable.

So, as you still have those Christmas cards to finish writing and addressing, perhaps some cookies and pies left to bake, even mentally preparing to spend a few days with the crazy relatives, take a trip to the country with Loretta Lynn this holiday season. It might be one of the best trips you’ve made all year.

Album Notes | Loretta Lynn “Country Christmas”

Released: 1966
Decca CAT#: DL 74817
Song Credits: Various
Producer: Owen Bradley

Loretta Lynn (Vocals)
Hal Rugg (Pedal Steel Guitar)
The Jordinaires (Vocals)

SIDE ONE: 13:07
SIDE TWO: 13:32

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