It is warm here in the northeastern US. I mean, right now it’s nasty and pouring rain, but it was over 60°F in New York today, and it’s supposed to be over 70°F tomorrow. Which is ridiculous for December, of course, but then the following song’s rarely-performed opening verse begins “The sun is shining, the grass is green.”
“White Christmas” by Irving Berlin, in the movie in which it first appeared (Holiday Inn), sung by Bing Crosby and Martha Mears:
Video courtesy of Marius MC
Or, if you prefer, an acoustic cover of the same by the Castro family:
Video by Michael Castro
Irving Berlin has no place in American music–he is American music.
What can one say about the famously-Jewish Irving Berlin? Starting out desperately poor as a Russian-Jewish immigrant, he ended up the enormously successful writer of over 1500 pop songs, show tunes, and movie songs. And all this despite the fact that he had no formal education past age eight (he left school to help support his family) and never did learn how to read or write music–he could only play piano by ear, in one key. He was a co-founder of ASCAP, founder of his own music publishing company, and, with Sam Harris, builder of Broadway’s Music Box Theater. Among his many awards was the Congressional Medal of Honor for writing “God Bless America.”
Irving Berlin was one of the giants who defined the Great American Songbook.