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Don’t Touch That Dial, 2016 Edition

The Library Director’s Annual Yule Blog


Since 2008, each December I have created a mix tape of seasonal favorites.

They’ve been known variously as” Don’t Touch that Dial” (I imagine there will come a day in the not too distant future when readers will have no idea what I mean by this — perhaps those days are here?), “Too Cool for Yule” and “The Director’s Annual Yule Blog.”

There are many thousands of songs to choose from, across all genres, and putting together this annual list is one of the things I most look forward to.

hanukkah rocksAs with that first list, I observe two major criteria: I really like the song and (mostly) stay away from the purely goofy — barking dogs, flattened grandmas – (although this year, I couldn’t resist, “Gelt Melt” by The LeeVees in homage to Chanukah, the eight-day Festival of Lights that begins on Christmas Eve); and I include a version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – that wistful confection penned by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, and introduced by Judy Garland in the 1944 MGM musical Meet Me in St. Louis, directed by Garland’s soon-to-be-husband, Vincent Minnelli, one of the greatest directors of movie musicals. I don’t believe there is a singer who has not covered this song and while Garland is still the standard by which I measure any cover, Luther Vandross does a terrific job with it, cool and swinging, and makes me miss him all the more.

winter lady leonard cohen

And speaking of losses, in 2016 we said good bye to several giants of the music industry: Prince, David Bowie, Sharon Jones, Maurice White, Merle Haggard, Leon Russell, Glenn Frey, Leonard Cohen, Ralph Stanley and too many others gone too soon.

While not technically a holiday song of the “holly, jolly” variety, Cohen’s “Winter Lady” captures his essence as poet and troubadour. And Stanley’s “Christmas is Near” is grassy and old-timey. Which brings me to “Who Knows Where the Time Goes,” by British folk rocker Sandy Denny – haunting, lyrical, a perfect accompaniment to late year musings.



I close with “The World Spins Madly On” by Indie folkies, The Weepies. Because this was 2016.




So click, spin or sing along.

And please consider posting a comment below to tell us what you think or to share your holiday favorite —be it musical, audio-visual, literary, traditional, or food-oriented. We would love to hear from you.

And while you’re at it, have yourself a merry little. . .




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