Song of the Week #23- White Christmas

white christmasOur top songs are definitely the cream of the Christmas crop.  This week is the super powerhouse, White Christmas.  This endearing song of reminiscence takes us back to an old-fashioned CHristmas.  Irving Berlin penned the classic in the summer of 1940 (amazing how many Christmas classics were written in the heat of the summer).  There is a little controversy about where the song was written.  It might have been at the Biltmore in Arizona, but more likely in La Quinta, CA at the La Quinta Hotel.  Regardless of where it was written, it is forever linked to the singer who sang it first- Bing Crosby.  Crosby made the first public performance on the radio show, The Kraft Music Hall, on Christmas Day in 1941.  It would then be recorded in May 1942, taking only 18 minutes to get the track finalized!  It was released as part of a collection of 78s for the film Holiday Inn.  The song wasn’t initially popular, more people loved the tune Be Careful, It’s My Heart.  But soon the public started to love White Christmas leading it to become a #1 hit on the charts.  It is the only single to be a #1 hit as part of three separate cycles over three different years.  This isn’t the only record, award or distinction for the song.

White Christmas won the 1942 Academy Award for Best Song.  It was the inspiration for the 1954 film of the same name.  It is on most lists named as the #1 Christmas song of all time.  NPR names it as #2 on the list Songs of the Century, just behind Over the Rainbow.  The Crosby album Merry Christmas, including his version of the song, was released in 1949 and has never been out of print since.  Most remarkably is the status in holds in the Guinness Book of World Records- the Best-selling Single of All Time.  The Crosby version has sold over 50 million copies world-wide.  If you include the more than 500 different recorded versions the sales total reaches over 100 million copies of the song sold world-wide.  100 million!!  The tune also holds a unique place in American History outside of Christmas and songs.  The radio broadcast of the song in April 1975 was the pre-arranged signal to begin the American evacuation from the city of Saigon in Vietnam.

The current Crosby recording is actually a 1947 re-recording due to the wear and tear on the 1942 original.  It still includes the clever lyrics of the opening, “The sun is shining, the grass is green…”.  So many newer versions skip right to the first verse and leave the introduction out completely.  Check out a few versions we found for you:

Bing Crosby– Singing it as part of the film Holiday Inn
Barbra Streisand- Her version includes the great introduction
Bing & Michael Buble– From Buble’s Christmas special on NBC
Mantovani– Orchestral version circa 1952
Supremes– Acapella recording from the girls group
Rockapella– Another acapella version, yes from HSN!
Bob Marley- Even reggae gets in on the action 
Glee– The cast sings and skates with the up-beat take on the song
Canadian Brass–  A clever instrumental version from the group, includes the intro too!

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