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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

How Many Famous Christmas Songs Came to Be

With Christmas only a few days away, and our last post of the week being tomorrow, we decided to keep things light n' festive and provide some background info or 'trivia' as to how some of the most famous Christmas and holiday songs came to be:

'Silver Bells' --  The song was originally called 'Tinkle Bells' until the wife of one of the composers reminded him that 'tinkle' refers to urination and then was immediately changed.  That is 100% true.

The song was first performed by Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell in the motion picture The Lemon Drop Kid, released in March 1951
'White Christmas' -- The song was written by Irving Berlin and according to the Guinness World Records, the version sung by Bing Crosby is the best-selling single of all time, with estimated sales in excess of 100 million copies worldwide

The song was first sung publicly by Crosby around Christmas 1941 then appeared in 1942 in the film 'Holiday Inn' starring Bing and Fred Astaire.

The version most often heard today is not the original 1942 Crosby recording, as the master had become damaged due to frequent use. Crosby re-recorded the track on March 19, 1947

Berlin who was Jewish wrote many extremely popular songs which are known to people today including the Christmas song 'Happy Holiday', 'There's No Business Like Show Business and the beautiful 'God Bless America'
'Have a Holly Jolly Christmas' -- This song was written in the early 1960s by Johnny Marks and performed by Burl Ives.

Though Marks was Jewish, he specialized in Christmas songs and wrote many other holiday standards, including "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (a hit for Gene Autry and others), "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" (a hit for Brenda Lee), "Silver and Gold" (for Burl Ives), and "Run Rudolph Run" (recorded by Chuck Berry).
'Baby It's Cold Outside' -- The song was written in 1944 and first made public via a 1949 film called 'Neptune's Daughter' starring Esther Williams and Red Skelton

Some had seen the song at the time as presenting a liberating stand for women because the guest decides to stay despite what the neighbors might say about her reputation.

Some critics the song like to focus on lyrics the woman sings such as "what's in this drink?" and his unrelenting pressure for her to stay despite her repeated statement of her desire to go home

Of course those people are nitwits
'Frosty the Snowman' --  Both this song and 'Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer' were recorded by Gene Autry with 'Frosty' written in 1950 and released the after 'Rudolph'

Although it is generally regarded as a Christmas song, the lyrics make no mention of the holiday and the melody is very similar to a 1942 tune called 'Let's Have Another Cup of Coffee' which Irving Berlin wrote.

'The Christmas Song' --  This is the song that begins with 'Chestnuts roasting on an open fire/Jack Frost nipping at your nose...' which was partially written and fully sung by Mel Torme in 1945

According to Tormé, the song was written during a blistering hot summer in an effort to "stay cool by thinking cool"

The most popular version is sung by Nat King Cole who performed the song in 1946.
'I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus' -- This song was written and 1952 and first performed by 13yr old Jimmy Boyd and then commissioned by Saks Fifth Avenue to promote the store's Christmas card for the year, which featured an original sketch by artist Perry Barlow of The New Yorker

The song describes a scene where a child walks downstairs from his bedroom on Christmas Eve to see his mother kissing "Santa Claus" (presumably his father in a Santa Claus costume) under the mistletoe.

Boyd's record was at first condemned by the Roman Catholic Church in Boston when it was released on the grounds that it mixed kissing with Christmas, ignoring the fact that mistletoe, under which many couples kiss, is traditionally hung in many homes during the Christmas season.

After the song's meaning was fully explained, the ban was lifted
'Here We Come A Wassailing' --   It is an English traditional Christmas carol and New Year song, apparently composed around 1850.

The old English wassail song refers to 'wassailing', or singing carols door to door wishing good health

'Deck the Halls' --  It is a traditional Christmas, yuletide, and New Years' carol.

The melody is Welsh dating back to the 16th century, and belongs to a winter carol, "Nos Galan", while the English lyrics date to 1862.
'Silent Night' -- The song (Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht in German) is a popular Christmas carol, composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber to lyrics by Joseph Mohr in the small town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria

In 1859, the Episcopal priest John Freeman Young, then serving at Trinity Church, New York City, published the English translation that is most frequently sung today