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.]
There is a very interesting story behind the writing of “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Robert May was an in-house copywriter for Montgomery Ward, and in 1939, as his wife was dying of cancer, they asked him to write a Christmas story that they could give away to shoppers to spur holiday sales. A little booklet titled “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was the result. Sometime in 1939, Johnny Marks became aware of the story and made a note in his idea notebook that it might make a good song. In 1947, Johnny Marks married May’s sister, and in 1949 he wrote the song based on his new brother-in-law’s poem. Gene Autry recorded the song as a B side in 1949 because his wife liked it (Autry didn’t), and it went on to sell 15 million copies.
According to Rolling Stone (2010), if you’re looking for the best rock ‘n’ roll Christmas song, look no farther because you’ve just heard it. And if it reminds you of “Be My Baby” or “Da Doo Ron Ron” you have a good ear, because those were written by the same three (Jewish) songwriters.
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).
Then Livingston went home and told his wife about their new song and she said, “Are you out of your mind? Do you know what the word ‘tinkle’ means to most people?” They changed the title (and lyrics) to “Silver Bells” forthwith.
Not even on December 25, which–this year–will also be the first day of Chanukah. (The first candle will be lit Christmas Eve–isn’t that convenient? *tossing imaginary blue and white confetti*) And since today New York is in the middle of a very not-Mid-Eastern deep freeze…
“Hanukkah in Santa Monica” by Tom Lehrer, sung by Tom Lehrer:
Video from Tom Lehrer, Topic, Provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group North America
Everybody seems to have covered this song too–only the everybody in this case are all amateurs (This seems to be a major oversight. Seriously, why has no one put this on a holiday album? DO THEY NOT GET THE JOKE?), between which I cannot choose. Go to YouTube and have a party!
Castrocopia is run entirely by a couple of misfits. Although McLovin, Liz Lemon, and REReader are in the back pocket of the Castros, it should not be inferred that this site is sanctioned by the Castros. Tolerated, yes. Loved, who wouldn't? Our words are our own and we stick by them.