NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 07: Alan Jackson performs during the CMA 2014 Country Christmas on November 7, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee.
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10 Country Christmas Classics For Your Family's Holiday Playlist


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Country music has a rich history of country songs, from Gene Autry's 1947 co-write "Here Comes Santa Claus" and country-adjacent folk singer Burl Ives' "A Holly Jolly Christmas" to more recent holiday classics by Kacey Musgraves, Carrie Underwood and other 21st century stars.

In between, entire albums and EPs of Christmas music by such heavy-hitters as Toby Keith, Reba McEntire, George Strait, Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, Faith Hill, Blake Shelton, Martina McBride, Lady A, Taylor Swift and others have added to potential playlist entries with fresh material plus tangy renditions of classic Christmas carols and uplifting hymns.

Here's a 10-song playlist of the all-time best country Christmas songs. It leans heavily into classics that should appeal to the whole family.

10. "Country Christmas," Loretta Lynn (Country Christmas, 1966)

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 08: (L-R) Recording Artists Jennifer Nettles, Loretta Lynn and Trisha Yearwood perform during the CMA 2016 Country Christmas on November 8, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Lynn wrote her own entires for the country Christmas music songbook, from the silly "To Heck with Ole Santa Claus" to this sincere story about her memories from this time of year spent back home in Butcher Hollow, Kent. It's the title track from Lynn's 1966 Christmas album.

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9. "Old Toy Trains," Roger Miller (1967)

Roger Miller performs 05/10/1982 at Soundstage, Chicago, Il, USA

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Originally recorded in 1967, Roger Miller's holiday tune has been revamped over the years by various artists, but the original is still the best. It captures the childlike wonder that goes along with belief in Santa Claus. Young listeners will long for Christmas day even more, while their parents and grandparents will wax nostalgically about simpler times.

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8. "Hard Candy Christmas," Dolly Parton (The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, 1982)

LAKE TAHOE, CA - 1992: American singer-songwriter Dolly Parton poses for a portrait in front of a Christmas Tree circa 1992 in Lake Tahoe, California.

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The 1982 musical film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas became an unlikely source for an instant Christmas classic via this Carol Hall-penned tune about making the most of hard times. Parton unquestionably was the best storyteller to share this hardscrabble tale with the masses.

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For more holiday offerings by Parton, check out her duets album with Kenny Rogers, 1984's Once Upon a Christmas.

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7. "All I Want For Christmas is a Real Good Tan," Kenny Chesney (All I Want For Christmas is a Real Good Tan, 2003)

Kenny Chesney rehearses for TNT's "Christmas in Washington" Concert to air Sunday, December 14 at 8pm ET/PT, live from the National Building Museum in Washington DC

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More recently, Chesney embraced the option of not taking holiday music too seriously by longing for a Christmas spent in paradise. The Paul Overstreet original is the musical equivalent of those Corona commercials from 1990-- the one with Christmas lights in palm trees. On the same album, Chesney adds island vibes to "Jingle Bells" and "I'll Be Home for Christmas" while keeping things more traditionally country on "Silent Night."

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6. "Let It Be Christmas," Alan Jackson (Let It Be Christmas, 2002)

Singer Alan Jackson performs on stage during TNT's "Christmas in Washington 2007" at the National Building Museum on December 9, 2007 in Washington, DC. "Christmas in Washington 2007" airs on TNT December 12.

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For something more uplifting, consider the orchestral title track of Jackson's 2002 holiday album. It's about seeking peace on Earth, regardless of where you reside or if the calendar reads Dec. 25. It focuses less on the nativity story and another Biblical principle: the golden rule.

Jackson brings as much heart on the album to sentimental favorites "The Christmas Song" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."

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5. "Christmas in Dixie," Alabama (1982)

Alabama (Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook), U.S. country music band, pose sitting on stools, circa 1980.

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The four members of Alabama at the time pulled off a rare feat 40 years ago. It added the rare relatively recent song to the list of no-brainer selections. Its lyrics about merry Christmases spent in the South resonated with listeners strong enough for the song to chart in three consecutive decades: first in 1982, and later in 1997 and 2000.

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4. "Pretty Paper," Willie Nelson (Pretty Paper, 1979)

Willie Nelson performs on stage in New York, 1979.

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First recorded in 1963 by Roy Orbison, Nelson immortalized this song he wrote when he recorded it with producer and arranger Booker T. Jones for the 1979 album bearing its name. Its lyrics remind us that Christmas time is about more than expensive presents or fancy meals.

A lifelong student of pop crooners, Nelson and Jones also concocted one of the best countrified versions of "White Christmas."

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3. "Blue Christmas," Elvis Presley (Elvis' Christmas Album, 1957)

(Original Caption) 12/20/1957-Memphis, TN: Rock 'n' roll crooner Elvis Presley reads an unexpected "greeting" -- a notice to report to military induction on January 20th. The idol of the teenagers is scheduled to begin making a film on the same day, however, so a studio official says that he will ask for a temporary postponement of Presley's induction. If Presley is not available for the movie, the studio and the producer will possibly lose between $300,000 and $350,000.

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Presley's sultry Christmas song, released originally in 1957, continually has made Christmas rotations since, even inspiring Porky Pig's hilarious version. Though it'd been around since 1948 and was recorded back then by country great Ernest Tubb, it'll forever be associated with Presley's snarling yet sorrowful interpretation.

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2. "If We Make It Through December," Merle Haggard (Merle Haggard's Christmas Present, 1973)

EARLY 1970s: Country singer Merle Haggard poses for a candid portrait in the early 1970's.

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Like Nelson and Parton, Haggard didn't shy away for sidestepping "Winter Wonderland" escapism, opting instead to consider how working-class struggles and layoffs at the plant impact the holiday season for common people. It's among the best stories told by a true American poet. Though it wasn't always so serious for the singer and writer of the jovial "Santa Claus and Popcorn."

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1. "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," Brenda Lee (Merry Christmas from Brenda Lee, 1958)

UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: (AUSTRALIA OUT) Photo of Brenda LEE; Brenda Lee at Christmas

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Recorded by rockabilly groundbreaker Lee in 1958, this is the most ever-present Christmas song by any country artist. Lee's mighty vocals and that instantly-recognizable saxophone solo make this song about Christmas trees evergreen. Its inclusion in the 1990 comedy film Home Alone further guaranteed this one will blare in stores annually, both before and after Thanksgiving, about as often as Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas is You."

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READ MORE: The Story Behind a Timeless Musical Statement of Faith, 'O Holy Night'

This story previously ran on Dec. 25, 2021.

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