When I was a scaredy Northeast Atlanta grade-schooler, I used to lull myself to sleep with the mellifluous strains of WPCH (“Peach”), a “beautiful music” station. Striving not to ruffle his easily unsettled audience, the announcer rarely broke in with a song list, so I drifted off unaware that the perfectly disembodied tones of Percy Faith, Henry Mancini, and 101 Strings were in fact created by human hands. I now recall as something of a revelation what was likely a slow dawning—that such things as flutes and violins were involved in the manufacture of the pristine sounds (a properly recorded pizzicato still fills me with a vague awe). A disquieting corollary of this experience is triggered by Nick at Nite’s collection of tunes drawn largely from such beloved but disturbing ’60s holiday specials as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (in which Santa Claus is a bigot), A Charlie Brown Christmas (in which the sympathetic protagonist is ridiculed for showing pity), and Frosty the Snowman (in which the sympathetic protagonist dies of exposure): If you grow up thinking certain songs are created by cartoon characters, it’s disorienting to have to listen to them without the visuals. But thank God for the Grinch! The greatest of holiday specials (and the only animated adaptation of a classic children’s book that eclipses its source) features characters so vivid that their personas can’t be stripped from their voices. How the Grinch Stole Christmas is represented not only by “Welcome Christmas” (you probably think of it phonetically as “the dah-hoo-dor-ace song”) but by a gloriously complete version of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” Not even A.A. Milne created better poetry for children, and he never got Thurl Ravenscroft to sing it.

—Glenn Blitzen