The fat guy in the sleigh is on his way

“Santa Claus is Coming to Town” was written in 1934 by John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie and first performed on Eddie Cantor’s radio show. This version is by the Supremes; it appeared on their 1965 “Merry Christmas” album. The song was an immediate hit in 1934. There were orders for 500,000 copies of sheet …

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What time of year is it?

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” sung by Idina Menzel. Do I need to explain who Menzel is? It’s from her 2019 Christmas: A Season of Love album. The song was written specifically for The Andy Williams Show’s Christmas episode in 1963 by its vocal director George Wyle and co-composer Edward Pyle. That …

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Judy Garland sang it first

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” 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 importantly, Director Vincente Minelli considered …

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Home is the sailor, home from the sea

“I’ll Be Home for Christmas” was written in 1942 or 1943 by lyricist Kim Gannon and composer Walter Kent. An additional writing credit was given to The Platters’ Buck Ram after a lawsuit. Bing Crosby recorded and released it in 1943 and the US War Department also released a live version Crosby recorded on the …

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Santa’s on the roof at Ala Moana

“It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” was written in 1951 by Meredith Wilson, whose name you might recognize as the man who wrote the book and composed the lyrics and music for The Music Man. He also wrote the words and music for The Unsinkable Molly Brown, which I remember seeing as a …

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New Christmas Albums, 2019

Here are 14 new Christmas albums that have been or will be released within the next month. Some are re-issues, some are from people I’ve never heard of, and at least one is made up of mostly new Christmas music. There are albums by The Oak Ridge Boys, Bing Crosby (with the London Symphony Orchestra), …

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Three ships, possibly Irish

Violinist Lindsey Stirling plays a rousing version of “I Saw Three Ships” Thanksgiving Week of 2017. She and her colleagues do a goodly bit of Irish step dancing during the performance. All the while she continues to play her violin. It’s quite a show. The song itself has been around since the 17th century. The …

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My Namesake’s Day

Sung by the Danish National Vocal Ensemble, here is the story of a Bohemian king going on a journey and braving harsh winter weather to give alms to a poor peasant on the Feast of Stephen (December 26, the Second Day of Christmas). During the journey, his page is about to give up the struggle …

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Other Christmas stories

I have posted two of these nearly every year for the past ten: “Yes Virginia”, the story of Francis P. Church’s New York Sun newspaper editorial responding to Virginia O’Hanlon’s question about Santa Claus’s existence. Jo Walton’s wonderfully imaginative story of Joseph, faced with a newly-pregnant girlfriend and a sudden requirement to travel to Bethlehem. …

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