There are many things that gladden the heart and stir the senses at this time of year, not the least of which is the music. Every song you enjoy has a memory attached to it, and becomes a sound of the season.
Here are the Christmas songs you grew up with (and some you didn’t), along with the trivia and memories that make it one of the “Twelve Carols of Christmas”.
1- No Christmas playlist would be complete without the voice of Andy Williams. And considering the title, what better song to begin with! Andy earned the title “Mr. Christmas” because of his multiple holiday TV specials over the years. This song was written specifically for “The Andy Williams Christmas Album,” but it appeared on all 7 Christmas albums Andy recorded.
I remember it from Home Alone 2. Since this movie, for me, was the official send off for Christmas to begin, I have always associated this song with the excitement of decorating, baking, and the happy laughter of children. This is the “tree-decorating” song.
2- This song was written in 1958 by Johnny Marks who’s known for his other songs, “Holly Jolly Christmas” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” It took two years for this song to become a hit.
Ironically, Brenda Lee was only 13 years old when she recorded this, and it was cut in the middle of July. Lee says the producer purposely made the studio freezing, and even decorated a Christmas tree to set the mood.
I always think of my 3rd grade Christmas program when I hear this one. My class did a line dance to this for all the parents, and I was kicking and screaming the whole time.
3- This is the quintessential christmas carol, hence the title “The Christmas Song.” In 2006 it became the most-played holiday song and Nat King Cole’s version is by far the most popular.
This song was somewhat of an experiment for songwriting duo Mel Torme and Bob Wells. They would often take turns writing songs at each other’s houses. One day Mel drove over to Bob’s in the dead of Summer. Wells was nowhere to be found but on a small notepad Torme found what became the first lines of the song.
It turns out Wells was so hot he wanted to see if, by writing a song about a different season, he could mentally cool himself off…and it worked–not only for Bob but for Mel also and they finished the rest of the song in 35 minutes.
This sets the appropriate scene for me. I come in from the cold from a fun day of sledding, or Christmas shopping, or now just a day of work and find a warm cup of cocoa. (“Silver Bells” has the same effect. It’s a toss-up).
4-This was one of two songs Burl Ives popularized from the Rankin/Bass TV Special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” “Silver and Gold” was the other.
Ives’ recorded a country version of this song with producer Owen Bradley. That’s the one you hear on the radio, but the one right out of the special has been getting more airplay in recent years, according to Rankin/Bass historian Rick Goldschmidt.
Like you, I remember this song from “Rudolph.” It takes me back to my childhood every time I hear it.
(To be continued…)