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Posts Tagged ‘Blue Christmas’

1.     Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Gene Autry):  Even though the story had been written some years before (1939), it could be argued that Autry’s version of this song (1949) was the sleigh that launched Rudolph to a worldwide audience.  As the first #1 song of the 1950’s, it eventually went on to sell over 12 million copies.   Autry’s warm folksy rendition has never been surpassed (though the 1960’s television special made Burl Ives version of the song a holiday staple as well).

2.     The Christmas Waltz (Frank Sinatra):  While many believe that Frank also nailed the definitive version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, “The Christmas Waltz” manages to capture both the holiday spirit and the classic Sinatra style.  Except for the Christmas oriented lyrics, it’s not hard to imagine this song fitting nicely on any of his Nelson Riddle era albums.

3.     Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow (Dean Martin):  This song was a perfect vehicle to combine Martin’s gifts as a crooner with his naturally playful personality.  It also served to reinforce his reputation as something of a ladies’ man, as it turns out to be one of the more romantic holiday songs of the Christmas season.

4.     Jingle Bell Rock (Bobby Helms):  At the time of this recording (1957) Bobby Helms was a rising country music star.  The song itself was meant to capture both the holiday feel of “Jingle Bells” and the emerging popularity of “rock and roll”.  With its catchy, easy-going, style, it has managed to become an enduring classic in the years since.

5.     Holly Jolly Christmas (Burl Ives):  As an accomplished actor and folk singer, Burl Ives was picked to voice the character of “Sam,” the snowman, in the 1960’s TV special, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”  Johnny Marks, who’d composed the original Gene Autry hit, was also brought in to do some additional music for the show.  “Holly Jolly Christmas” was one of those compositions, and it went on to become a holiday standard in its own right. 

6.     Sleigh Ride (Arthur Fiedler & the Boston Pops):  Although Leroy Anderson originally composed this piece and went on to have a big hit record with it in the 1950s, Arthur Fiedler & the Boston Pops have the distinction of doing the original recording in 1949.  In the years since it has become something a signature song for that revered orchestra. 

7.     Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree (Brenda Lee):  Recorded in 1958, when Lee was only thirteen years old, this song eventually became the biggest selling record of her long and illustrious career.  Like a couple of other classics on this list, it was also composed by Johnny Marks.

8.     Blue Christmas (Elvis Presley):  While this song was originally recorded in 1948, and had been remade by numerous artists, it was Presley’s decision to include it on his 1957 Christmas album that propelled it to worldwide acclaim.  Released as a single in 1964, the song has become an indelible part of the Elvis legacy.

9.     The Christmas Song (Nat King Cole):  Written by notable composer/singer Mel Torme in 1944, Cole recorded the original version of this song in 1946.  Despite its immediate success, he chose to re-record the tune on multiple occasions in order to take full advantage of the developing recording technology.  The definitive version was completed in 1961 and featured a full orchestra and “Stereophonic” sound.  It still stands as one of the highlights of Cole’s stellar career. 

10.  White Christmas (Bing Crosby):  First recorded in 1942, and featured as part of the movie “Holiday Inn,” this song is considered the best selling single (>50 million copies) and record (including various albums, >100 million copies) of all time.  Its phenomenal success eventually led to the development of the 1958 movie “White Christmas,” which went on to build a holiday legacy of its own.  Crosby originated another holiday classic the following year (1943) with the bittersweet, “I’ll be Home for Christmas.”

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