“The Christmas Song,” was written by Tormé and Wells when then were 19 and 22 respectively. According to Tormé, it was written in about 45 minutes during a heat wave, sparked by an attempt by Wells to cool off by thinking winter thoughts. (This seems to be a not-uncommon trigger for the writing of Christmas songs, does it not?)
We’re a bit short on snow in my part of the world right now, which is not unusual–it’s still on the early side for the white stuff. Of course, the following song‘s rarely-performed opening verse begins “The sun is shining, the grass is green.”
“White Christmas” by Irving Berlin, sung by The Three Tenors:
Video posted by congodfather. (I think the best bit is when the children’s choir joins in.)
The song was written for the Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire vehicle Holiday Inn and became an instant classic. Crosby’s version of “White Christmas” is the best selling record of all time, the single selling at least 50 million copies; when all the various covers are taken into account, the song is estimated to have sold over 150 million copies. This despite–or perhaps because of?–the fact that it’s not so much about Christmas itself as an ideal or dream of what a Christmas should be.
[NOTE: Since the Crosby’s single was released before singles charts were a thing, I’m going by the conclusions of the researchers at the Guiness Book of World Records.]
Friday December 23rd: It’s our annual all music holiday special, featuring Santa […]. You may remember Jason Castro from “American Idol.” He’s joined his brother and sister in a new trio, and they have a soulful performance. […] That’s Friday at 9 a.m. on GMT.
And an acoustic cover of “I’ll by Home for Christmas,” sung by Jason and Michael Castro:
Video by Jason Castro (Okay, yes, the stache is unfortunate.)
The song, wistful and haunting, first recorded in 1943, was an instant hit, resonating strongly with soldiers at the front during WWII as well as with their families. It still speaks to those who can’t be with their loved ones during the holidays (or indeed at any time).
For more about that “part of our journey,” click on over to these…
This really was the “Hallelujah” TV cover that started it all. In 2008, when Castro performed a vulnerable acoustic version on Idol’s top 16 week, judge Simon Cowell noted that the late Jeff Buckley’s 1994 rendition was one of his favorite recordings of all time. This resulted in a huge sales spike for Buckley’s “Hallelujah,” propelling it to the top spot on the iTunes singles chart. The single was later certified platinum, 14 years after its original release and 11 years after Buckley’s death; at the time, this was the biggest digital sales spike for a song performed by an Idol contestant. Cohen’s original and a version by Rufus Wainwright also received sales boosts, and Castro himself appeared briefly in the top spot on iTunes chart (he was removed due to Idol producers not wanting to favor any one contestant; it was a very different world then). Eight years later, Castro’s “Hallelujah” is still considered one of the greatest performances in American Idol history.
“Hallelujah” has also been recorded by Rufus Wainwright, Bob Dylan, k.d. Lang, Bon Jovi, and countless contestants on American Idol (including season seven contestant Jason Castro, who had a minor hit with it and created another moment for Buckley’s version).
“Hallelujah” survived the doctor dramas and the evening-soap finales, but it almost succumbed to reality TV, where unseasoned vocalists repeatedly tried to impress their judges by remaking it with big runs and rococo flourishes. Jason Castro delivered the most celebrated “Idol” performance
So here’s the thing, Mr. Murray–Jason’s performance is the most celebrated because he did the opposite of “remaking it with big runs and rococo flourishes”; he sang as stripped down a version as there can be, and he still does, which is what lets the emotion shine through. And it’s always beautiful.
That is all.
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