The Colorado Sound’s My5 – December 2020

by Kevin Johnston

((( Don’t forget: each My5 title is a link. Click on, NoCo! )))

Simply enough, here are my 5 fav holiday tunes.

1. Bruce Springsteen – “Merry Christmas, Baby”I’ve seen him sing this and “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” live a few times, and this Charles Brown tune really gets some special “umph” from Bruce & Clarence.

2. Eels – “Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas”If for no other reason, this song makes the list because of the line, “Baby Jesus, born to rock!”

3. Darlene Love – “Christmas, Baby Please Come Home” – There is nothing to match the power of this Phil Spector-produced classic. YouTube has a compilation of 1 line from every year she sang this on David Letterman.

4. Darlene Love – “Christmastime For The Jews” Darlene makes a 2nd showing on my list with a fav tune that needs more space to explain than is here. I love this tune from Saturday Night Live and 15 years later still laugh at its creativity and the truth!

5. Adam Sandler – “The Chanukah Song” SNL.  Who knew they could be such a contributor to classic holiday music through the years?!?

2020 wasn’t ALL bad. There were some really good albums released. Here are 5 of the best:

1. Paul Weller – On Sunset Paul Weller’s 15th solo album came out in the Summer. It’s a wonderfully nostalgic but clear-eyed look at getting older.

2. Drive-By Truckers – The Unraveling – Drive-By Truckers are rapidly becoming the go-to band for music that delivers a sharp take on current affairs. This album, released in January, is the second in a trilogy of albums that put the band’s practiced eye on social commentary. 

3. Nada Surf – Never Not Together Nada Surf can always be counted on to deliver melodic, sweet  looks at life, thanks in no small part to lead singer Matthew Caws emotive voice.

4. Bob Mould – Blue Hearts – Bob is mad as hell and he’s sick of singing about the same kinds of injustices he’s been singing about since the 1980’s. But he will continue to do so as long as there’s a need, delivering some great observations. 

5. Matt Berry – Phantom BirdsMatt Berry is a man of many talents: actor, writer and musician. His sixth album, Phantom Birds, takes on something not unfamiliar in 2020: putting on a brave face.

1. Olive, the Other Reindeer (1999) Based on Vivian Walsh’s children’s book, this animated holiday special follows Olive (a Jack Russell Terrier), Martini (a con artist penguin) and Fido (a pet flea) as they fight to save Christmas. Featuring voiceovers by Drew Barrymore, Edward Asner, Joe Pantoliano, and Michael Stipe

2. Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)  The perfect animated story to bridge the gap between Halloween and Christmas, Nightmare teaches us that sometimes the grass isn’t greener on the other side. Good any time of year, this stop-motion, animated musical from Tim Burton will help cure the holiday blues.

3. The Polar Express (2004) Based on Chris Van Allsburg’s book, the breakthrough animated movie follows a young boy who, doubting Santa’s existence, goes on a magical train ride to the North Pole, showing him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe. Colorado native Dustin Wicke is among the film’s animators! 

4. The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974) This classic animated tale shows just how much can go wrong when Santa takes a vacation. Meet Jingle and Jangle on their quest to find proof that people still believe in Santa. And sing along with the Miser Brothers!  

5. Colorado Sound’s Top 20 List for the month! December is finally here, and we get to bid adieu to 2020! In honor of a crazy year, The Colorado Sound wants to know what song sums up 2020 for you. We’ll tally up the votes and play it as a countdown on the last Friday of the month. Vote at

Here are my top 5 albums of 2020:

1. Mavericks – En Español  They’ve been creating great music for 30+ years. 2020 had them doing something new: recording an entire album in Spanish. En Español is 12 tracks of that classic Mavs sound, half original, half traditional & classic Latin songs. No wonder it was the #1 record on the Latin charts for several weeks!

2. Allergies – Say the Word  A pair of British DJ’s making great music since 2012, this year’s: Say the Word has the duo hitting their stride. The album is a potent combination of Hip Hop, Soul and Vintage R&B with a healthy dose of horns. It was the soundtrack of the summer in a year where we all needed to forget our trouble and get out on the dance floor. 

3. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – Reunions  Listening to Reunions gives you the sense of being in the same shoes as the characters Isbell sings about: a cast of loveable losers and misfits to which many of us can relate.  You can’t help but sing along to songs like “What’ve I Done to Help” or “Dreamsicle.”

4. Sea Wolf – Through A Dark Wood Alex Brown Church AKA Sea Wolf often writes as if his songs were pieces of literature (he got the band name from a Jack London novel). It’s easy to imagine being on a path, deep in the woods or dealing with inner struggle, as his characters all journey before reaching some form of conclusion. Pay attention to every lyric. 

5. Chuck Prophet – The Land That Time Forgot  For his latest effort, The Land That Time Forgot, Prophet evokes a sense of nostalgia especially on songs like “Marathon” and “High as Johnny Thunders.” The songs are sentimental but not syrupy, catchy but not cliché. Chuck brings back the good things and leaves the bad behind.