5 Classic Houston Christmas Records
5. Lightnin' Hopkins, "Merry Christmas Baby"
Besides Townes Van Zandt, who we wish had recorded the world's most melancholy Christmas album, Lightnin' is probably Houston's most critically exalted hometown artist. Lightnin' was born in East Texas but he died in Houston, and in between he became widely thought of as the greatest blues guitarist ever.
Lightnin' recorded a handful of incredible holiday songs like "Santa" and "Merry Christmas," and we've been listening to his version of "Merry Christmas Baby," co-written by Texas City native Charles Brown and available on the above 1991 Rhino compilation Blue Yule: Christmas Blues and R&B Classics, all week.
Tex Ritter recorded a bunch of great Christmas songs, but the 45 rpm "Christmas Carols by the Old Corral" was a No. 2 hit in 1945. Before moving to Nashville, and before giving the world the late, great John Ritter (of Jack and Chrissy fame) Tex got his start in radio here on Houston's KPRC. He wrote some of our favorite hardcore honky-tonk titles, such as "You Two-Timed Me One Time Too Often" and "You Will Have To Pay," but also had church-cred enough to record the gospel album Psalms.
Tex went to law school at University of Texas and appeared on Broadway as an actor, but was primarily known as a singing cowboy in the movies and recorded quite a few holiday songs. While "Christmas Carols by the Old Corral" was a huge hit, we also recommend "Is There a Santa Claus" and our current favorite, "Merry Christmas Polka."