Leapin’ Lizards!

No, no, no. Leaping Lords, not lizards! Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters sing “The Twelve Days of Christmas” on a 1949 Decca release. From Wikipedia: The song, published in England in 1780 without music as a chant or rhyme, is thought to be French in origin. “The Twelve Days of Christmas” has a Roud …

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A Rockabilly Christmas

Brenda Lee sings her most enduring hit, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” Startlingly, she was only 13 years old when she recorded it in 1958. It didn’t sell well originally, but her record label Decca kept trying, and in 1960 it became a hit. It was aided that year by Lee’s release of her biggest …

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No snow out here, but I can dream

I know my East Coast and Southern friends are digging out from under, so I hope they don’t hate me for this. Eric Clapton plays and sings “White Christmas” in a way you’ve never heard before. The song has a fascinating history: Irving Berlin wrote it in either 1940 or 1941. The first public performance …

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Garlands and wreaths

Julie Andrews sings “Deck the Halls.” The melody was written in 15th-century Wales, and the original lyrics had nothing to do with Christmas or decorating, but were well wishes on the New Year. The English lyrics were written in the 19th century by a Scotsman named Thomas Oliphant and were first published in 1862. You …

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Who’s coming to town?

Chicago plays a very different arrangement of “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” from the one we’ve all heard a thousand times. John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie wrote it in 1934 and it was an immediate hit. Its first performance was on Eddie Cantor’s radio show in November 1934, although it was first recorded …

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What’s this time?

Johnny Mathis thinks “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” The song was written specifically for Andy Williams’ TV variety show’s Christmas episode in 1963 by its vocal director George Wyle and co-composer Edward Pyle. As of November, 2016 it was the seventh most-played holiday song of the last fifty years. More amazingly, for …

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Poignancy

Judy Garland sings “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” The song made its first appearance in the 1944 film “Meet Me in St. Louis.” Hugh Martin composed it and Ralph Blane wrote the lyrics. Some of those lyrics were changed during filming when Garland, Tom Drake (her love interest in the film) and, perhaps most …

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What kind of holidays?

Happy ones, of course! If you can’t believe Manhattan Transfer, who can you believe? The song was written by Irving Berlin and turns up in the movie “Holiday Inn,” which is famous for the first appearance of “White Christmas.” Here Manhattan Transfer pairs it with Kay Thompson’s “Holiday Season,” which other artists have done as …

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