My friend Kinsey made me a mix CD of Christmas music back in 2008 that has become one of my favorite holiday albums/compilations ever. It’s a great mix of classic Christmas radio hits and traditional carols, as well as some fun and funky entries. What I appreciate most about it is that it’s so eclectic. You’ll get The Carpenters, followed by Joy Electric, followed by Guster singing awkward Spanish. It’s pretty fun to pop that in during group events to get people’s reactions.
The mix opens up with Bing Crosby’s “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas” — perfect intro. But then Track 2 complete switches gears with a contrasting vision of the Christmas season: Jars of Clay’s cover of “Christmas for Cowboys,” a song I would only later learn was a John Denver track. The stripped-down, almost somber nature of the track gives it a real sense of the quiet and isolation of the prairie. There’s something really special about that vibe that I enjoy.
Sometimes in the hustle and hasty moments of December’s non-stop pace, it’s nice to listen to this track and imagine a moment of quiet and campfire meditation during the Christmas season. Perhaps that’s the longing that my heart feels for true rest.
Anyway, it’s a great track, and the first of 2 Jars of Clay Christmas covers on this list. (The next one will be, let’s say, a bit more controversial.)
If you want to compare this version to the original, it’s tagged below. For my money, the slower cover version is just a tad better.