I know I promised not another Christmas song. Because I hate them. But here is one that I’ve always loved. Go Tell It On the Mountain is different from most Xmas songs, because for one thing, it’s actually about Christ being born, as opposed to insipid commercial pap like stupid Frosty or Rudolph the stupidass reindeer. It’s also head and shoulders above everything else because it holds up as a song. If you’ve noticed most Xmas songs have about as much musical substance as a TV ad jingle. This is a real song with real soul. Nowhere better than in the hands of gospel queen Mahalia Jackson. Jackson’s rendition is classic. She gives a stately performance over a rolling piano. While many singers going in the gospel style would have opted to sing it as big and loud as they could, Jackson’s singing is understated, only hinting at the vocal power she’s capable of. Going in an equally great but different direction, Simon & Garfunkel covered it barbershop style. It’s much faster, powered along by an almost bluegrass strumming. Paul and Art’s vocal harmony here is one of their best together. In yet a third, completely different iteration, The Wailers set it to a mid-tempo reggae beat. They also changed all the words but the refrain. “Jesus Christ is born” became “Set my people free” and it was just as good being a freedom song as a gospel one. In that form it became a signature anthem for Peter Tosh. These three performances couldn’t be more disparate, but in each one the spirit of the song remains, even if the words themselves are different. It’s one of those hardy classics that can be shaped into any style and not lose their power.