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Jarvis Cocker, Tony Bennett share their tracks for The Guardian's 'perfect Christmas music playlist'

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Tony Bennett, The Christmas album veteran (he released five between 1968 and 2011) is about to celebrate his 93rd festive season. He writes; "One of my favourite musical Christmas memories came when I was at a very low point in my life. It was Christmas morning. I had just gone through a divorce. I was separated from my children, all alone in a hotel, feeling low. In my room, I started to hear music and thought I had left the TV on, but I checked and it was off. It got louder, and I realised it was coming from the hallway, so I opened my door and there was a choir, singing On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever). Duke Ellington was doing one of his sacred concerts at the Presbyterian Church nearby, on Fifth Avenue, had heard I was down, and sent over his choir to cheer me up. It was the most beautiful gift I have ever received."

Former carol-singing teenage busker, Christmas music aficionado and ex-Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker writes; "In the early days of Pulp, when we were 15, 16, we'd go into Sheffield city centre on Christmas Eve and busk. The buses would stop at four, so everybody would be rushing around doing last-minute shopping or getting drunk. We'd do all the old classics – O Come All Ye Faithful, Silent Night – although we'd only know the first verses. The second verses would be all [sings] la-la-la-laaa. The third verse would be the first one again. Not that it mattered. We raked it in.

Music is the best part of Christmas to me, that and twinkling lights. I enjoy finding new Christmas songs. Perhaps it's because when I was a kid, having Christmas at my grandparents with my mum, they only had two Christmas records. One was called Christmas With the Stars, on Pickwick, which had Max Bygraves and Des O'Connor on it. The other was the Tijuana Brass Christmas album. We played them one after the other all day, so I heard them hundreds of times. Still, I love the familiarity of them."  Photograph: James Melaugh

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