Twelve Original Holiday Songs by Colorado Artists

Denver may have no polar bears left, but the city does have plenty of musicians producing original holiday music.
Denver may have no polar bears left, but the city does have plenty of musicians producing original holiday music. Jana Reifegerste, Flickr.
Hanukkah is here, Christmas is in the air, and the speakers of every big-box store are pumping the same corny jingle-jangle ditties to remind you of the holidays — and all the stuff you’re supposed to buy. Thankfully, Colorado artists set a precedent for writing winter-holiday songs that capture the specialness of the season without making you want to fall down a chimney. Sure, notable Denver acts have done Christmas-themed covers — The Lumineers’ “Blue Christmas,” The Fray’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” and Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats’ “Baby It’s Cold Outside” — but we’re more interested in whether anything original can be said about the most wonderful time of the year. In alphabetical order, here are twelve holiday songs by Colorado bands:

Big Head Todd & the Monsters, “I’m Glad It’s Christmas Time”

A few days ago, Todd Park Mohr and company released an upbeat blues-rock jam called “I’m Glad It’s Christmas Time.” It’s a parody of ZZ Top’s “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide,” substituting Santa Claus for the highway-cruisin’ narrator of the original: “Easin’ down the highway in my red Christmas sleigh…” The single came out as part of the band’s free “Monsters Music Monthly” series, and the video shows all members getting groovy in a basement studio wearing festive hats and reindeer antlers.
Bison Bone
Bison Bone, “Late December”
Last month, the Americana rock band Bison Bone put out “Late December” just in time for a melancholy end of the year. The track boasts the band’s usual moody “cosmic country” and Courtney Whitehead’s deep twang, lamenting holiday heartbreak — “You walked out the door/On December 24th” — in a way that doesn’t sound cheesy at all.

Judy Collins, “The Blizzard”

Legend of Colorado folk Judy Collins has released multiple collections of holiday-themed songs. But we recommend her track “The Blizzard,” which first appeared on 1990’s Fires of Eden, the first outright tribute she ever wrote to her home. The rippling piano ballad recounts a night spent stranded in a blizzard near Estes and meeting a kind stranger. The song is a Collins classic, but its message of comfort and compassion is pure holiday spirit: “There’s a light in the window and a place called home/At the end of the storm.”

Cross Me Off Your List, “Home for the Holidays”

This Denver screamo duo put out its No Sleep Till New Years EP in 2011, including this track that details feelings of being “Home for the Holidays”: loneliness and desire for both escape and belonging.

John Denver, “Christmas for Cowboys”

John Denver always represented for his adopted Western home, no matter the season. On 1975’s Rocky Mountain Christmas, he doubled down on the Colorado atmospherics, including the meditative “Aspenglow” and the cringey “Please, Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas).” Our pick, however, is the lovely “Christmas for Cowboys,” hinged on Denver’s unending appreciation for this magnificent landscape: “So many gifts have been opened today/Ours is the sky and the wide open range.”

Dressy Bessy, “Hopped Up (on Xmas)” and “All the Right Reasons”

Indie-pop favorite Dressy Bessy spices up its festive winter offerings with manic jingle bells in the background. On “All the Right Reasons,” Tammy Ealom sweetly encourages going outside to build a snowman with lighthearted-yet-tongue-in-cheek fa-la-la-la-la’s, then fades out over a hum of dreeeeidel dreidel. On “Hopped Up (on Xmas),” Ealom raps with distorted vocals over mad-making organs, asking Mom to exchange her gift for “cold hard cash.”
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Katie Moulton is a former Westword music editor. She's written about culture for alt-weeklies since 2009 and has also worked as a venue manager, radio DJ/producer and festival organizer. Her go-to karaoke jams are "Flagpole Sitta," by Harvey Danger, or "Ride Wit Me," by Nelly, which tells you a lot.
Contact: Katie Moulton