Bill Wyman
December 07, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

Rock & roll Christmas songs are as old as rock itself. These 10 great holiday numbers balance the season’s heady sentimentality with a taste of true grit.

”Merry Christmas Baby” Charles Brown (1946).
An R&B standard: ”I haven’t had a drink this morning/But I’m all lit up like a Christmas tree.”

”’Zat You, Santa Claus” Louis Armstrong and the Commanders (1953).
Satchmo, transformed into a Santa-searching kid.

”White Christmas” The Drifters (1954).
Doo-wop decadence.

”Run Rudolph Run” Chuck Berry (1958).
”Johnny B. Goode” meets ”Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

”Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” John Lennon & Yoko Ono with the Harlem Community Choir (1971).
Wishful and overwrought, but heart-tugging all the same.

”Christmas Wrapping” The Waitresses (1981).
A bouncy, ultimately touching rap about big-city love.

”2000 Miles” The Pretenders (1983).
A rippling lonely-at-Christmas hymn, conveying genuine feeling without hokey sleighbells.

”Another Lonely Christmas” Prince (1984).
Synthesizer hysterics, Grand Guignol vocals, baroque emotions.

”Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (1985).
Brawling holiday rocker.

”Christmas in Hollis” Run-D.M.C. (1987).
Middle-class holiday contentment — rap-style.

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