“A Christmas Album” – A Holiday Classic
Amidst the flurry of seasonal compilations and saccharine carols, one album endures as a wintertime cornerstone: Barbra Streisand’s 1967 masterpiece, “A Christmas Album.” Released at the peak of her early career, this record transcends holiday tradition, etching itself onto the fabric of popular music with Streisand’s signature blend of vocal prowess, playful charm, and a touch of Broadway pizzazz.
From the opening notes of a playfully reimagined “Jingle Bells,” propelled by swinging drums and finger snaps, Streisand announces her arrival as the queen of holiday revelry. This isn’t your grandmother’s carol collection; it’s a vibrant celebration, infused with Streisand’s theatrical dynamism. Witness the sultry purr she pours into “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” transforming the wistful ballad into a smoky cabaret number. Or the joyous abandon she brings to “My Favorite Things,” her voice soaring effortlessly through Rodgers and Hammerstein’s iconic melody.
“A Christmas Album” – The Emotional “Ave Maria”
But “A Christmas Album” isn’t just about high-octane renditions. Moments of tender intimacy punctuate the festivities. “The Christmas Song” is delivered with a melancholic sweetness, capturing the yearning for loved ones during the holidays. “Sleep in Heavenly Peace (Silent Night)” is bathed in an ethereal stillness, showcasing Streisand’s ability to convey profound emotion with delicate nuance.
The album’s genius lies in its diversity. Traditional carols like “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “Ave Maria” receive respectful yet innovative interpretations. “The Best Gift” offers a heartwarming original composition, while “I Wonder as I Wander” blends folk simplicity with Streisand’s expressive delivery. Every track feels intentional, carefully chosen to weave a tapestry of emotions that mirrors the multifaceted spirit of the season.
More about “A Christmas Album” from the Barbra Archives by Matt Howe.
“A Christmas Album” Stands the Test of Time
“A Christmas Album” also reflects Streisand’s Jewish heritage. The inclusion of “The Lord’s Prayer” offers a moment of spiritual contemplation, while the Yiddish folk song “I Yonder as I Wander” adds a touch of cultural dimension. This blend of traditions underscores the album’s universal appeal, embracing the season’s inclusivity and reminding us that the joy of Christmas transcends religious boundaries.
The album’s enduring legacy is undeniable. It has topped the Billboard charts multiple times, becoming one of the best-selling Christmas albums of all time. Its influence stretches beyond sales figures, shaping the landscape of holiday music with its vibrant arrangements and Streisand’s singular interpretation. Countless artists, from Mariah Carey to Michael Bublé, have cited “A Christmas Album” as an inspiration, a testament to its enduring impact on the genre.
But beyond awards and accolades, the album’s true magic lies in its ability to evoke a sense of childlike wonder. With each listen, we’re transported back to a time of anticipation, crackling fireplaces, and the excitement of unwrapping presents. Streisand’s infectious exuberance fills the air, reminding us that Christmas is a time for laughter, love, and cherishing the warmth of human connection.
More Than A Collection of Carols
So, this holiday season, ditch the predictable singalongs and revisit Barbra Streisand’s “A Christmas Album.” It’s more than just a collection of carols; it’s a joyous celebration of life, love, and the magic of the season. Let the playful “Jingle Bells” set the mood, savor the poignant beauty of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and bask in the sheer joy of “My Favorite Things.” With Streisand’s voice as your guide, you’re sure to rediscover the wonder of Christmas, one timeless melody at a time.
And in the end, that’s the true gift of “A Christmas Album” – a reminder that the holidays are about more than just presents and decorations. They’re about embracing the spirit of joy, sharing love with those who matter most, and finding wonder in the simplest of things. And with Barbra Streisand leading the way, that journey becomes pure, unadulterated delight.
If you are a veteran Barbra fan or a newbie, Barbra’s catalog of music is abound of great songs and great albums. What’s your favorite?