Song of the Week #9- Carol of the Drum

This week’s song is originally titled the Carol of the Drum.  You probably know it better by its retitled name, Little Drummer Boy.  The song was written in 1941 by composer and teacher Katherine Davis.  Her goal was to write a song for the higher voices in a chorale style.  The tune is based on a Czech folk song but no one knows for sure which one.  The first recording wasn’t made until 1955 by the Trapp Family Singers.  You may know of the family from the musical The Sound of Music.  The Carol of the Drum was one of their last recordings before retiring.  That version didn’t really take off.  In 1958 the Harry Simeone Chorale released their recording changing the name to the Little Drummer Boy.  It took off!  The song told the tale of a poor little boy who is called by the Magi to the nativity.  He has no gift to give the baby Jesus and asks Mary if he could play his drum. He does and it goes well.  Over the years there have been more than 200 versions of the song recorded in 7 different languages.  It is a favorite of many (It’s far too repetitive for my taste) and is regularly listed as one of the top songs of the season.  The early popularity of the song inspired a television special in 1968.  Rankin and Bass produced the stop animation special telling the tale of the young drummer.  In the tv special he is given a name, Aaron.  Everyone probably has their favorite version of the classic and I would bet many include Bing Crosby’s version on their list.  Check out these offerings of the song:

Harry Simeone Chorale– The original hit version from 1958
Bing Crosby & David Bowie– This classic TV special recording mixes the song with Peace on Earth
The Supremes– A take from the power female trio
Kenny G– The ultimate in easy listening jazz, close your eyes and imagine the mall lobby
Faith Hill– The country songstress shows off s more gospel sound in her version
West Wing– This clip shows just how great the use of a song can be to a story

 

 

 

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