Honestly, I have no idea if people still have a single favorite Christmas album these days — or even listen to specific ones. But I know if you asked me — and you haven’t — I’d tell you that the perfect Christmas album was 1979’s John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together. And I wouldn’t brook any debate on the subject.
Taken from a now-obscure TV special, the 13-track album features this unlikely pairing between a famous folk singer and a bunch of puppeteers doing their crazy muppet voices. It kicks off with a spirited and personality-laden “Twelve Days of Christmas” before reclining back for songs like “The Peace Carol” and “When the River Meets the Sea.” There are a few kooky entries, such as “Deck the Halls” and “Christmas is Coming,” but for the most part, the album is remarkably restrained from the usual Muppet antics.
It’s unmistakenly ’70s in its musical arrangement, yet it’s got a timeless charm to it that transcends the era. Many of the songs are dripping with sincerity, and the fact that several of them are lesser-known give them a unique spirit. It certainly doesn’t hurt that John Denver was at the apex of his career and perfect for seasonal sentiment like this.
For me, this was the soundtrack to my childhood Christmas. My mother absolutely loved this album and played it on every Christmas Eve as we had our family picnic together. Her insistence of A Christmas Together’s greatness rubbed off on the rest of us, and by the time we were adults in our own right, we championed the collection as well.
It wasn’t just that we listened to it all the time or that the songs were lovely, funny, and earnest — it’s also the fact that the Muppets featured so prominently in my childhood that I welcomed them into the Christmas season as well. We graduated from Muppets on Sesame Street to the Muppet Show (and even Muppet Babies), along with the movies. So hearing Fozzie, Scooter, Beaker, Rolf, Miss Piggy, and all the rest belt out Christmas tunes capitalized on my fondness for these characters.
So if you’ve never listened to it before, I highly recommend it this season. It might just become your favorite too.