In middle school, my mom got a new job at a private school in New Hampshire and I started attending there. It was about and hour and a half to drive, there and back, and while Mom drove and listened to NPR, I read and listened to CDs on my portable CD player. I had a giant wallet of CDs and would figure out how I felt every morning and every night and pop one in, as I didn’t (and still don’t) really like people talking on the radio unless they’re telling funny, intelligent stories.
Mostly, I listened to Christian bands. Pop and rock, Five Iron Frenzy, The Newsboys, Rebecca St. James. My favorite CDs were mixes put out by the recording companies themselves; BEC and Tooth and Nail and Five Minute Walk and Sarabellum all had samplers out, if memory serves. I made a lot cassette mixes at the time and these sampler CDs made me feel like older, cooler people were letting me in on secret good music.
I got the first two Happy Christmas compilations sometime in middle school and immediately loved them. Here were many of my favorite bands rocking out to familiar Christmas favorites! This time of year, my dinged-up CDs live in my car’s stereo, great to bop along to while I’m stuck in morning traffic. The first compilation starts with a bang: ska band The OC Supertones’ take on Joy to the World.