Classic Christmas Songs
Silver bells, red-nosed reindeers and a walks in a winter
wonderland. It takes just a few bars of these Christmas classics to
know that time of year is again upon us.Many songs that started out
life as pop releases have since become Christmas standards and
provide revellers with alternatives to traditional carols. These
Christmas classics steer away from the religious aspect of the
occasion, instead sparking holiday cheer with songs of parties,
romantic sleigh-rides and of course, Santa Claus!
Dreamy classic Silver Bells was written as a small duet for the
1950 film The Lemon Drop Kid. Composed by Jay Livingston and Ray
Evans, it started its life with the dubious title Tinkle Bells,
which was quickly changed when Livingston's wife pointed out the
word's double meaning. Before the release of The Lemon Drop Kid,
Silver Bells was released by Bing Crosby and Carol Richards. The
song became such a hit that producers of the film called the actors
back to refilm a longer and more elaborate version of the number.
Silver Bells differs from many other Christmas songs in that it
depicts the holiday in the city, rather than in the country. The
writers drew inspiration from the Salvation Army bellringers who
would stand outside department stores collecting for charity.
Today, the song remains a firm favourite among revellers because of
its glitzy and romantic depiction of Christmas in the big city.
It seems as though Rudolph has been part of Christmas forever,
but the little red- nosed reindeer didn't appear until 1939.
Rudolph first joined our Christmas celebrations in the form of a
book by Robert May. Ten years later, May's brother-in-law,
songwriter Johnny Marks adapted the story into the song we all love
today. The track was recorded by Gene Autry in 1949 and had shot to
number one on the charts by Christmas. Rudolph the Red-Nosed
Reindeer is now firmly entrenched in pop culture, featuring in
cartoons, comic books and even a feature-length movie!
After Gene Autry's recording of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
rocketed to number one, he went searching for another Christmas
hit. This came the following year, in 1950, in the form of Frosty
the Snowman. Jack Rollins and Steve Nelson wrote the song, which
peaked at number 7, but has continued to inspire books, cartoons
and TV specials throughout the years. Oddly enough, despite being a
holiday classic, Rollins and Nelson's original lyrics don't make
any reference to Christmas! To counter this, many cover artists
have changed the last line "I'll be back again some day" to the
more specific "I'll be back on Christmas Day!" Today, Frosty the
Snowman even has his own MySpace page. Each year the site is
flooded with messages from children all over the world wanting to
share the Christmas spirit with the much-loved snowman.
It took a case of tuberculosis to bring about Christmas classic
Winter Wonderland. While lyricist Dick Smith was recovering in the
West Mountain Sanitarium, Pennsylvania, he was inspired to pen the
song after seeing a snow covered park close to the hospital.
Co-written with composer Felix Bernard, the first recording
appeared in 1934 and has since been covered by over a hundred
different artists. Like Frosty the Snowman, Winter Wonderland makes
no direct mention of Christmas, simply referring subtly to
"sleigh-bells" and conjuring up a happy, celebratory atmosphere.
Particularly for those who celebrate the holiday without snow, the
song invokes the magic of the fabled white Christmas and is
guaranteed to remain a classic for many years to come.
Rudolph and the countless other great Christmas classics
disappear from our lives for most of the year. But we know without
fail, when the holly comes out and the turkey is roasted, these
songs will again find their way onto our stereos and airwaves. We
know that just like Frosty himself, they'll be back on Christmas