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Song Spotlight: Auld Lang Syne (special New Year's edition)

[Note: As of October 4, 2009, the Fisher album is unavailable.]

Given the nature of this blog, I think it is pretty much a given that posting will be somewhat sparse now that Christmas has come and gone. I will probably make an occasional post if I have some news to share or if I happen across a really great find, but things will definitely not be as active here as they have been for the last couple of months.

With that said, I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you who have been reading this blog from the bottom of my heart. I have had a lot of fun checking on the stats for my site feed on Feedburner every day and seeing the number of subscribers increase steadily. I also feel truly humbled to know that this blog has been read by people from all over the world, and I hope that the music I have featured here has touched at least some of you as much as it has touched me. Thank you, and I hope that you will all keep your subscriptions active, as I still have a huge amount of free Christmas music that I have not yet been able to feature here, plus I am sure that 2008 will bring more treasures which I will feature as soon as I find them. I'd also love to hear more from my readers next year, so I will be encouraging interactivity a lot more than I did this year.

I would also like to invite all of you to visit a new blog that I have started, entitled Totally Free Music. My initial intention is to have it be a more general version of Free Christmas Music and feature links to free music of all types, along with my own brief reviews and opinions about the music. If you have enjoyed getting free music from this blog for Christmas and would like to continue getting free music throughout the year, I will be happy to be your guide at Totally Free Music. I hope to see you there!
All right, and now on to this blog's very last spotlight of 2007. "Auld Lang Syne" is a song that will very likely be familiar to anyone who has been through a New Year's celebration, even if you may not actually know the words to it. In fact, for years I thought of it as only "that New Year's song", having heard it in countless TV shows and movies that feature a New Year's celebration. Since I have found a few versions of it in my search for free Christmas music, I thought it would only be appropriate to feature it here.
  • An orchestral version by Frank Pido (done on a computer) can be found at the Garritan Christmas Music Player. It's track 19 on the 2004 album, which is about 3/4 of the way down the page.
  • A faster, noisier version by A Beautiful Lotus can be found on Christmasasaurus vol. 2.
  • A more traditional version with vocals can be found on Fisher's December album.
As a bonus, I'll also include the lyrics here so that you may actually be able to sing along with this song the next time you hear it. I got this set of lyrics from Wikipedia, which also features the original lyrics by Robert Burns as well as a pronounciation guide.
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne ?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup !
And surely I’ll buy mine !
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine ;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine (dinner time) ;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand my trusty friend !
And give us a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and that 2007 was a good year for you. Here's to hoping that 2008 will be even better. Happy New Year, and happy listening!



Multiple Album Spotlight: Garritan Community Christmas Album (vol. 1-4)

This was originally going to be about volumes 1 to 3, but I just checked the website and found that volume 4 is now available. So, you can check out the Garritan Christmas Music Player website and download your choice of 4 volumes of the Garritan Community Christmas Album.  With nearly 80 songs between the 4 albums, I realize that many people probably won't get a chance to listen to all of it this year, depending on when you stop listening to Christmas music. But that's okay - you can download it now and have it ready for next Christmas; in fact, I don't think I've managed to listen to all of the first 3 volumes yet, let alone the latest volume.

So, what exactly is a Garritan Community Christmas Album? Basically, each song on these albums is made by a single person on a computer making use of Garritan libraries, which contain samples of real musical instruments. All I can say is that these samples sound very authentic and have been put to great use by the artists on these albums; to my ears, these sound like real orchestral recordings (or a big band recording in the case of 2006's "Ding Dong Jazzily on High"; I'm not sure if there are other recordings that stray from the orchestral format). All in all, these albums make for a very pleasant listen and are well worth downloading.

If this sounds interesting, please head to the website and download whatever you want. Liner notes, cover artwork, and CD labels are also available to download. If you act quickly, you may also be able to get a free copy of the latest CD (for the price of postage).

As always, thanks for taking the time to read, and I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and happy listening.

URLs: http://garritan.com/Xmas.html


Album Spotlight: Beautiful and Unique Snowflakes

[Note: this album is no longer available.]

Patrol magazine has made its first annual Christmas sampler, Beautiful and Unique Snowflakes, available for free download. It consists of live recordings and B-sides (all of which were either previously released as free downloads or are unreleased live recordings) by a number of contemporary artists. Here is the complete track listing:

1. “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” Coldplay
2. “O Holy Night,” Andy Zipf
3. “White Christmas,” Keane
4. “Blue Christmas,” Bright Eyes
5. “O Holy Night” (Live), The Corrs
6. “Do You Hear What I Hear?”, Plain White Ts
7. “Carol of the Bells,” Thrice
8. “If There Is A God”, (Live) Smashing Pumpkins & Radiohead
9. “Majesty Snowbird” (Live), Sufjan Stevens
10. “She Came Home for Christmas” (Live), Mew
11. “White Christmas” (Live), Coldplay
If even one of those artists and/or songs looks interesting to you, I would highly recommend heading over to Patrol's site and downloading the album. Who knows, you might discover a few future favourite artists in the process.

I hope this Christmas is shaping up to be a great one for you and those you care about. Merry Christmas, everyone!

URLs: http://www.patrolmag.com/index.php?id=172


Album Spotlight: Sarah Brown - Emmanuel

I have a beautiful album for you today. Sarah Brown's Emmanuel is a collection of traditional Christmas carols performed on piano, with Sarah's vocals ringing clearly on top of the often upbeat and lively piano arrangements. The end result is a truly uplifting collection of music, which may be very refreshing if you have found some of my recent featured albums to be a little too eclectic for your taste. Emmanuel is definitely an album for the whole family to enjoy at this time of year.

Highlights? There are a lot on this album, but if I had to narrow it down to a few I would say "What Child is This?", which is done in an arrangement I have never heard before, with a completely different vocal melody than I am used to; "Hail the King", which features percussion and soaring vocals; and "Good King Wenceslas", which is done instrumentally. The real standout for me is "Christmas Medley", a piano tour de force which winds its way through songs like "The First Noel", "I Saw Three Ships", and "Away in a Manger". The transitions between the individual sections are very well done, and at over 9 minutes in length, the medley is something that really needs to be heard to be believed.

If you end up listening to the album, I would, as always, love to know what you think about it. Also, with only 4 days left before Christmas, we're really running out of time for featuring more music here. I still have a few things I would like to post about, but if there is something you would like to see featured here - a song, an artist, anything at all - please let me know either via email or in the comments, and I will do my best to find something that matches what you are looking for. Merry Christmas, everyone!

608 South - Treeline Christmas (one more time)

[Update: These files are no longer available.]

After being informed that the files on my website had exceeded their bandwidth, I decided to find another way to share 608 South's Treeline Christmas album with anyone who wants to hear it. This time, I decided to use zSHARE, a site which offers free file hosting. Hopefully it will have more bandwidth than Google Page Creator sites. Here are the links that you can use to download the files:

  1. Caroling
  2. Come Immanuel
  3. Away in a Manger
  4. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  5. Long Expected Jesus
  6. We Three Kings
  7. All Rejoice
  8. What Child is This
  9. O Holy Night
  10. I Heard the Bells

Since this is my first time using zSHARE, I would love to know how it works out for people. Please leave a comment for any feedback you might have, whether positive or negative. And also, please let me know what you think of the music.

Merry Christmas!


Album Spotlight: Winter Wishes

I hope you have been enjoying the great variety of musical styles that have been featured so far on this blog. I feel like my musical preferences have been expanding thanks to some of the Christmas music I have been listening to lately. Over the past couple of days I have really come to appreciate an album that I originally downloaded last year but didn't really get into at the time. That album is the Silber Records compilation Winter Wishes, which I would like to feature today.

The single most striking feature about this album is the variety of musical styles found on it. From an a cappella version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (recorded via voicemail) to a cover of Prince & the Revolution's "Another Lonely Christmas", the album winds its way throught many different moods. There are beautiful renditions of "Silent Night" and "Carol of the Bells" as well as a reinterpretation of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" in "dream number nine (recurring)". The bulk of the album consists of original songs from the Silber Records roster; my favourites of these include the beautiful "Snow Angel" and "In the Snow", as well as the percussion- and synth-driven "Another Journey by Steamboat".

The best thing about such a varied album is that most people should be able to find at least a couple of songs to love on it. I have listed some of my favourites above; what are yours? I am also now interested in checking out more music from many of the artists featured on this compilation; perhaps some of them may end up being featured on my other blog throughout 2008. For now, though, please head on over to the Internet Archive and download a copy of Winter Wishes; make sure to take a look at the liner notes there for more information about the music.

Merry Christmas and happy listening!


608 South - Treeline Christmas (redux)

[Update: The 608 South website has never come back online, so I have decided to remove the files from my own site as well.]

Last week's featured album, 608 South's Treeline Christmas, is currently unavailable as the 608 South website is still down. In order to enable peple to hear this wonderful album, I have decided to take an unusual step and host the files on the Free Christmas Music website. If you are interested in listening to the album, please visit its new home on the Free Christmas Music website. If 608 South's website ever comes back, I will remove the files from my own site and redirect readers there. But for now, as far as I know this is the only place on the web where this album is available.

As always, I would love to know what anyone thinks of the album. If 608 South happens across this entry, thank you for the wonderful music, and I hope to see your website back up and running soon. Merry Christmas!


Free Album: Seriously Westcoast Vol. 2 - Happy Holidays (limited time only)

NOTE: as of December 16, 2007 at 11:59 p.m., this album is no longer available for free. I know some of you happened across this post a little late to get the download; in order to avoid missing any future time-limited offers, please subscribe to the blog's feed (also available via email) and always be amongst the first to read each post.

Hi again. I know it's only been a few hours since the last post, but this free download is only for a very limited time, so it definitely needs to be mentioned now.

Seriously Westcoast Vol. 2 - Happy Holidays is being given away for free by the Vancouver Sun this weekend. The offer started at 12:01 EST and continues for 48 hours from that time. This is a compilation of Christmas music from artists on the Nettwerk Music Group label. Here is the entire track listing:

Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan - God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
The Weepies - All That I Want
Sarah McLachlan - Silent Night
Matt Wertz - What Child Is This
Lily Frost - Skating On The River
Oh Susanna - Go Tell It On The Mountain
Medieval Baebes - The Holly & The Ivy
The Be Good Tanyas - Rudy
Barenaked Ladies - Elf's Lament
Melissa McClelland - O-Holy Night
Jars of Clay - Hibernation Day
Jenny Owen Youngs - Things We Don't Need Anymore
Martha Wainwright - Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year
Kyle Andrews - Under The Misteltoe
Leigh Nash - The First Noel
Sarah McLachlan - The First Noel (DJ Shah Remix)

Sound good? You bet! Head on over to the download site, enter your name and email address, and download away. As always, I'd love to read what you think about this in the comments.

Merry Christmas!


Album Spotlight: MiMi Loves Xmas

I have a rather unique album for you tonight. This is a Christmas album that is so far outside the realm of "normal" Christmas music that I can't even properly describe it; at the same time, I am utterly intrigued by it and have found myself unable to stop listening to this strange, beautiful music.

The album in question is called MiMi Loves Xmas. My first word upon hearing it was "whoa", and that sense of wonder continued as I listened to the rest of the album. Most of the tracks are not "songs" in the conventional sense, but rather soundscapes that nonetheless bear a vague resemblance to Christmas music. Perhaps the most recognizable song on the album is "Silent Night", which sounds as if someone took the titular Christmas carol and filtered it through Radiohead's Kid A album to deliver a rendition unlike any other. As for the rest of the album, words really fail me, so you'll have to check it out for yourself; I can guarantee you that the experience of listening to this album will be 21 minutes unlike any you've ever experienced.

If you end up liking the album, why not let me know by posting a comment, and I'll see if I can find some more music like it to spotlight here.


Album Spotlight: 608 South - Treeline Christmas

[Update: as you can see from the comments, this website went offline pretty much right after I made this post.]

Today's featured album comes to us from Buena Vista, Colorado-based 608 South, "a worship band for God's pleasure". Treeline Christmas is actually one of the more varied Christmas albums I have featured here. Vocally, it is a mixture of male, female, and children's vocals. There is occasionally some spoken narration, including a child narrating part of "Away in a Manger"; the contrast between the adult and child voices on that song is very nice. "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "We Three Kings" are both instrumentals featuring some surprisingly good guitar playing; both these songs are among the highlights of the album. All the variation makes the album feel a bit like a Trans-Siberian Orchestra album, only mellower and without an overarching story. Overall, the album is fairly upbeat and is a very pleasant listen.

Go download Treeline Christmas and let me know what you think of it. Until next time, happy listening!


New Content: A-M Classical

There's not really much information on the site about what exactly A-M Classical is, but the Christmas Carols page there has a wonderful collection of, well, Christmas carols. Like the last couple of features on this blog, most of the A-M Classical songs are all very mellow and relaxing and performed on a solo instrument; with a single exception, the instrument this time around is an organ.

There is a total of 20 songs currently available from the site. Almost all of them are traditional Christmas carols, and the sound of the organ gives them a stateliness that few other instruments could match. The lone exception is a lively, ornate version of "Jingle Bells" played on piano; it is one of the highlights of this collection, and it is also different enough that I hope a collection of piano music is in this site's future. A message on the site does say that more will be uploaded throughout the Christmas season.

For the time being, though, this is a very nice collection of relaxing Christmas music. Head over to A-M Classical and check it out for yourself.


Album Spotlight: John Conahan - Rhodes Christmas

Continuing with the relaxing mood established with yesterday's featured album, today's featured album also manages to be one of the more unique Christmas albums I've ever heard. So far on this blog we have had albums consisting of solo guitar and solo piano music; John Conahan's Rhodes Christmas features nine Christmas songs performed on nothing but a Fender Rhodes piano, plus another two songs that also feature vocals. The mood throughout the entire album is very mellow and relaxed, and the sound of the Rhodes piano will help you to feel warm on even the chilliest of winter days. I listened to it whilst sipping a cup of tea as a snowstorm raged outside my office window today, and it seemed like a perfect soundtrack to what was going on.

The music on the album is a wonderful mix of old and new. There are traditional Christmas carols like "Silent Night" and "Greensleeves", modern standards like "The Christmas Song" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", and even a couple of Vince Guaraldi numbers from A Charlie Brown Christmas ("Christmas Time is Here" and "Skating", both of which are among the highlights of the album). The two vocal songs are covers of "When the River Meets the Sea", from the John Denver & the Muppets Christmas Album, and Joni Mitchell's "River", another highlight of the album.

Once again, if you feel like this time of year is too hectic and leaves you feeling drained of energy, take some time to chill out and throw on some relaxing music. I think that Rhodes Christmas would make a great choice for such a situation. Please let me know what you think of it.

If you like the relaxing mood of the last couple of albums, be sure to check back soon, as I'll be featuring more relaxing music this week before I move on to other types of Christmas music. As always, thanks for reading, and I sincerely hope you are enjoying the music I feature on this blog as much as I do.

Album Spotlight: Barbara Gallagher - Love Came Down at Christmas

I have some relaxing music for you tonight. Barbara Gallagher's Love Came Down at Christmas CD features beautiful solo piano performances of 12 Christmas songs. I believe that this album would sound lovely if listened to while a storm rages outside as you relax by the Christmas tree, with a cup of your favourite hot beverage in one hand, a roaring fire in the fireplace, and your loved ones next to you. There are a few upbeat songs, such as "People Look East", but for the most part the entire album is very soothing and relaxing. My favourite song is the last song, which is a beautiful medley of "Away in a Manger" and "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear".
So if you want some Christmas music that will help put you in a relaxing mood (and, let's face it, I think relaxation is something that many of us could use more of at this time of year, despite out best intentions), please give Love Came Down at Christmas a try and let me know what you think of it.
Thanks for reading, and I'll be back soon with some more music along the same lines.


Album Spotlight: M Iafrate - happy xmas, x is here

Yesterday I promised you another folk-based Christmas album, and here it is: M Iafrate's happy xmas, x is here. There are 10 songs on this album, and they run the gamut from traditional Christmas carols, to the more modern "White Christmas" and "Happy Xmas (War is Over)", to an original composition called "The Prince of Peace".

The hymn "Each Winter as the Year Grows Older" starts the album off in a stark and somber mood, but by the time the harmonica kicks in on the second song, "O Holy Night", one gets the feeling that this is anything but a standard Christmas album; the use of a kazoo in "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" is an indication that this is a totally unique Christmas album. The Iafrate-penned "The Prince of Peace" is one of the album's highpoints; with instrumentation of "vocals, acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo, slide guitar, kazoos, tambourine, [and] hand claps", all performed by Iafrate himself (as is the majority of the entire album), and lyrics like "pave the way for the prince of peace. he hangs around with fishermen but doesn’t eat meat. he tellin’ us all to turn the other cheek. pave the way for the prince of peace," it is a fun and definitely unique look at the life of Jesus Christ. Another highlight is "Away in a Manger", which features Iafrate's brother Andrew on mandolin and vocals; and those vocals are harmonized beautifully with Iafrate's to create a very stirring version of this traditional Christmas carol.

Overall, happy xmas, x is here is a very fun album to listen to. The unique instrumentation, beautiful arrangements, and inspired performances make it a worthy addition to any music lover's collection.


Artist Spotlight: Dolores Dagenais

[Update: The music linked to in this post is no longer available.]

For me, one of the biggest benefits of this whole Free Christmas Music project has been the opportunity to discover artists that I probably never would have discovered otherwise. Many of those artists come from genres that I don't normally listen to; thanks to the ability of Christmas music to transcend all notions of genre, it is easy to find myself in previously unexplored musical territory. One such genre is folk music, and I am happy to say that I have found a couple of really great folk artists who have been generous enough to make their Christmas albums freely available for people to enjoy. I'll be doing this post in two parts, featuring one artist today and the other whenever I get the second part written, hopefully tomorrow.

Today I want to feature Dolores Dagenais, a singer/songwriter from Pictou, Nova Scotia, Canada. Dolores has made her Words of Warmth album available for free download from her website. The album features eight songs, seven of which are traditional Christmas carols; the final song, "Empty Pocket", is an original song that was written in 2000 after she "witnessed the body of a homeless man being picked up off the sidewalk one cold January day." This song is absolutely beautiful and features some very moving lyrics. Another highlight of the album is "Away in a Manger", which is done completely a capella and features some stunning vocal harmonies. In fact, many of the songs on Words of Warmth feature very distinctive vocal harmonies which are an absolute joy to listen to.

Words of Warmth will only be available on the website until January 2008, at which time it will be taken down to make room for more new music, so you should head on over there now if you want to check it out.

Dolores has also added another original Christmas song to her website. "Fragile Light" takes a look at the true meaning of Christmas, and, like "Empty Pocket", is a very moving song. "Fragile Light" has been given its own page on the website, complete with artwork and lyrics.

Part two of my exploration of folk Christmas music will be up soon. In the meantime, though, please head on over to Dolores Dagenais's website so you can hear her beautiful music for yourself.


Site News: New sites in the search engine

It's been a while since I last posted anything here, so I wanted to give a brief update as to what's been going on with the whole Free Christmas Music project. The main news is that I've added close to a dozen sites to the custom search engine, and many of those sites contain complete albums available for download. I haven't yet added those sites to the complete list of sites on the website, mainly because I haven't had time to download and listen to all the new music yet. That should hopefully happen soon, though, and I am hoping to have another album spotlight posted here within the week.

I hope you regular readers have been finding this blog useful, and I thank you very much for continuing to read it. If there's anything else you think I could be doing with the blog and/or website, please take the time to post a comment below. Please also let me know if you know of any more free Christmas music that could be featured here. With just a month left before Christmas, the best should still be yet to come.


Album Spotlight: Hairy Larry - The Gift

It has been said that the mark of a truly great song is that it still sounds good when played on nothing but a single acoustic guitar. Just think back to the last time you gathered around a campfire with friends or family and someone brought along an acoustic guitar - all those old songs like "House of the Rising Sun", "Mrs. Robinson", and "Hotel California" still sounded great, and they were also a lot of fun to sing along with.

Some of the most timeless songs around are traditional Christmas carols - songs like "Silent Night", and "O Come All Ye Faithful". May of these songs are hundreds of years old, yet they continue to be heard around the world each year at Christmastime.

So what would happen if someone were to take some of these carols and arrange them for a solo acoustic guitar? For the answer, look no further than Hairy Larry's The Gift, which takes nine of the most popular Christmas carols of all time and presents them as arranged for a single acoustic guitar. These arrangements give us the most basic essence of each song, and the result is a stunning, truly beautiful work of art that will instantly appeal to any lover of Christmas music - or music, period, for that matter.

Please head on over to the Internet Archive's page for the album and download these amazing songs for yourself. After you've listened to them, why not leave a little review either in the comments below or on the album's page? You can also find out more about Hairy Larry at his own website.



Artist Spotlight: Jonathan Coulton

[Update: the link to "Christmas is Interesting" no longer works, but I found a live version that can be downloaded here.]

According to his website, Jonathan Coulton is "a musician, a singer-songwriter and an internet superstar". I first became aware of him last year when I came across a list of Creative Commons Christmas songs, which features a few of his songs: "Podsafe Christmas Song", "Christmas is Interesting", and "Chiron Beta Prime".
  • "Podsafe Christmas Song": Uh-oh, it seems that there are no podsafe Christmas songs for anyone to play! Will Jonathan and his friends be able to save Christmas by delivering a song that's safe to play?  You'll have to listen to this delightfully quirky little song to find out.
  • "Christmas is Interesting": Christmas is interesting / Like a stick in your eye / It's so freaking interesting / That it might make you cry says the chorus of this song, which looks at Christmas through the eyes of characters from stories like It's a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, and even Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Bittersweet and beautiful, this one has to be heard to be believed.
  • "Chiron Beta Prime": a Christmas greeting from the Anderson family, who have unfortunately been banished to an asteroid by the Robot Council.  More quirky humour along the lines of "Podsafe Christmas Song".
Definitely not your traditional Christmas carols.  If you're looking for some Christmas music that's a little (or maybe a lot) different, these songs from Jonathan Coulton would be a great place to start.  My favourite of the bunch is "Christmas is Interesting", with "Podsafe Christmas song" not too far behind.  What's your favourite?  Post a comment and let us know!


Album Spotlight: Allison Crowe - Tidings

[Note: as of October 2009, Tidings is no longer available for free from Allison Crowe's site.  This issue is currently being looked into.  In the meantime, the traditional half of the album can still be downloaded for free from Jamendo.]

Oh, have I got a treat for you tonight. As you may or may not have noticed in the comments for my last post, Allison Crowe's manager, Adrian, mentioned that there is more free Christmas music to be found on Allison's Tidings page. I checked that site out before heading to work today and was amazed to find that the entire album is available for download. I downloaded the songs onto my flash drive so that I could listen to them at work today, and I was simply amazed by what I heard.

The first thing that struck me, even before I had heard a single note, was the song selection. There are the traditional Christmas carols that one almost expects to hear on a Christmas album; songs like "Silent Night", "O Holy Night", "The First Noel". Joni Mitchell's "River" also makes an appearance; as this has become one of my favourite Christmas songs (even though it's not really "about" Christmas per se - but more on that in a later post), I was happy to have another version of it. Then there are some songs that have even less to do with Christmas, but more about "spirituality and redemption" (as the album's Wikipedia article states); among these songs are Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", Sarah McLachlan's "Angel", and a pair of Beatles songs, "Let It Be" and "In My Life". An intriguing lineup of songs, to say the very least - it looks like this is an album that can be enjoyed at any time of year.

After listening to the album, I am practically speechless. Just hearing this music has made me feel like I received an early Christmas present. I don't think my words could possibly do it justice, but I'll try to describe it as best I can; after all, if you've read this far it likely means that you want a little more information before heading over to her site and listening for yourself. Allison is clearly a very gifted performer. Her voice is so powerful that it sometimes seems to overpower the recording equipment; I can only imagine that seeing her perform live would be an unforgettable experience. She also accompanies her vocals with her own accomplished piano playing; most of the songs actually consist only of vocals and piano. It's nice to hear such refreshing arrangements of many of these songs. I think the real standout of the album is "Hallelujah", which she performs with a passion and intensity that is rarely heard in a cover version; she really manages to make the song her own. Some other highlights include "Angel", which features another powerhouse of a vocal performance; "O Holy Night", which is given an upbeat, jazzy treatment unlike any I've ever heard; and the a capella album opener, "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear".

Now, please go and check the album out for yourself. I'd love to know what my readers think about it, so please leave a comment here if you listen to it. Enjoy!


New Content: last.fm Christmas tag free downloads

[Update: as of September 2009, free Christmas downloads on last.fm can be found right here.  It's a more direct route than the way I described in this post.]
Last.fm is a social music website that allows users to add tags to artists, albums, and tracks. These tags can be based on any criteria a user desires; unfortunately, the tags are not moderated, making it possible for users to tag an artist like The Wiggles with things like "death metal" and "viking metal". In general, though, the tagging system works quite well, as the more users there are that use a particular tag on a particular item, the more prominent that tag will appear on the item's page.

The tag I'm interested in at the moment is, not surprisingly, the "christmas" tag. Open up that page, and somewhere near the top you should see a link that looks like this:

FREE Track Playlist (see all tracks)

Click on that link and it will open up a list of all tracks tagged with "christmas" that can currently be listened to, in their entirety, for free. Mostly this just means that they can be streamed on demand; however, there are almost always at least a few tracks that can be downloaded for free, as specified by the artist or record label (in other words, these downloads are completely legal). Currently, there are free "christmas" downloads available from Lisa Loeb, Allison Crowe, Irish, Marshmallow Coast, and John Conklin.

Note that, as I mentioned above, the tags are not moderated, so some of these "christmas" tracks may not in fact be Christmas songs at all. It looks like most of them definitely are, though, so go ahead and check out the last.fm "christmas" tag to add a few more Christmas songs to your collection.


Site News: Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

The Free Christmas Music website has just had its first major layout update since it was first created last year. Among the changes:

  • There is now more than one page on the site

  • The custom search box has been relocated to the header of each page

  • The majority of the front page (i.e. the list of websites that are linked to from the site) has been relocated to a Browse page

  • A Search page contains more resources for searching

  • Links to this blog and my About Me page have been added to help tie everything together

All of these changes have been done with the goal of making the site easier to use. If you find that it is not easier to use, please let me know.

The next site update will likely be in the form of new content - i.e. new websites that have free, legally downloadable Christmas music. Yes, I have begun finding more such sites this year; I am currently checking them to make sure they are not just duplicates of material that is already on the site.


The 8bitpeoples - The 8bits of Christmas

This has got to be one of the most unique collections of Christmas music ever made. Remember how I said Christmas music has something for just about everyone? Well, this one is for video game fans, particularly of old-school consoles like the NES, Game Boy, Atari 2600 and VIC20. Each of the 8 songs on this release were actually composed on video game consoles and computers. Clocking in at just under 18 minutes, it's a short listen, but songs like "the first blip blop noel" and "last christmas (hot digi remix)" will definitely help to get you in the mood for Christmas - and perhaps to break out that old Game Boy and play a few levels of Tetris as well!

Download The 8bits of Christmas for free from the Internet Archive. Let me know what you think in the comments, and also post a review on that site as well.

Welcome to the Free Christmas Music blog!


Halloween is almost here and gone, and around this time my thoughts always begin to turn to Christmas, which is by far my favourite time of year. There are many things that make Christmas a very special time for me, and one of the most prominent is always the music. Christmas music has a way of transcending genres and emotions in a way that very few forms of music can. No matter if it's Bing Crosby singing "Silver Bells" or Run D.M.C. telling us about "Christmas in Hollis"; Elvis Presley singing about his "Blue Christmas" or Spinal Tap describing "Christmas with the Devil"; whether a song is intended to make us laugh, cry, or reflect on things that are precious in our lives, Christmas music has an appeal that is so broad that people of just about any type should be able to find something to like about it.

So Christmas music is very special to me, and I always look forward to the last few weeks of the year when I listen to it nearly non-stop. Unfortunately, I love this music so much that my desire to hear more often far outstrips my budget. However, last year I came upon a solution to this predicament: using the Internet to download Christmas music for free. Not P2P networks or BitTorrent trackers that have scads of copyrighted music available for anyone to download, but websites that have music that is freely and legally downloadable. I spent hours searching for, downloading, and of course listening to some excellent, and often completely unique, Christmas music - all for free.

I thought that other people may also want to hear some of this music, so I decided to find ways to make it easier to access. The first such way was a Free Christmas Music website, which contains links to all of the free Christmas music I was able to find. Then I decided to make a custom search engine to search through all of those sites; you can find a search box for that search engine in this blog's sidebar.

This blog is the next step in making free Christmas music more accessible to everyone. My current plan is to highlight at least one artist, album, or song a week. At first, I will just use what's already on the website, but if I happen to run across any new free, legally downloadable Christmas music, I will post about it here first and then archive a link to it on the website. An RSS feed is available for up-to-the-minute site updates; you can find a link to it in the sidebar and also at the bottom of each page. I'm always open to suggestions and feedback of any sort, so please leave comments if there's anything about this blog that you want to discuss.

That's about it for an introduction. I guess it's still a little too early to be saying "Merry Christmas", but not for too much longer. For now, enjoy your Halloween and check back soon to start enjoying some excellent Christmas music - all for free!

In the spirit of both Halloween and Christmas, I'll leave you with a clip from The Nightmare Before Christmas.