"You know -- hokey. Unhip. Completely Caucasian. Funny thing is, if you go back and listen to real Eisenhower-era extravaganzas, they actually sound cool in retrospect. I mean, the best stuff on [Johnny Mathis]' `The Christmas Music of Johnny Mathis' (Columbia/Legacy 57194) are the older selections, like `Winter Wonderland' and `White Christmas.'
"Besides, [Vince Gill] does understand how to balance country roots with Christmas tradition, offering a straight-up `White Christmas' and cool, Western-swing take on `[Santa Claus] Is Coming to Town.' And better that than the tear-in-my-beer stuff Alan Jackson does on `Honky Tonk Christmas' (Arista 18736). Pardon me, but `Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas)' is not my idea of a heartwarming Christmas tune."
"Sure. Not many, but there were some. Bruce Cockburn brings a fresh, folk-inflected approach to `Christmas' (Columbia 53026), which not only boasts respectful renditions of familiar favorites, but includes lesser-known gems like `Riu Riu Chiu' and `Les anges dans nos camagnes.' And I was glad to see the reissue of John Fahey's `The New Possibility: John Fahey's Guitar Soli Christmas Album' (Rhino 71437). It's beautifully played and quite tasteful -- assuming you don't mind hearing a slide guitar version of `Silent Night.'