40 Essential Christmas Albums

Classics and new entries worthy of your holiday bonus

6

Vince Guaraldi Trio, 'A Charlie Brown Christmas'

Vince Guaraldi Trio, A Charlie Brown Christmas
Courtesy of Courtesy of Fantasy Records

Before CBS aired the first Peanuts animated special in 1965, they thought it would flop. The executives hated the choppy animation, the real kids reading the lines, the melancholy tone unsweetened by a laugh track, Linus reciting a Biblical passage, and not least, this piano jazz soundtrack. Now this music evokes the show, which in turn evokes your own childhood: while "Christmas Time Is Here" is wistful and sad, there's no happier Christmas music than "Linus and Lucy."

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