Post by Sheriff John Stone on Nov 16, 2019 15:35:28 GMT
It's the most wonderful time of the year! Frost on the pumpkin, maybe a snow flurry or two. The squirrels in the back yard are gathering food for the winter. The neighbor is putting colorful lights on the lamp post. Tree farms that were dormant now have cars parked in the lane. TV commercials are advertising new toys, both for the kids and mom and dad. The malls are busy - the hustle and bustle is back. And the sounds of the season are in the air. Christmas music!
Do have a favorite era of Christmas music? A favorite Christmas artist? A favorite Christmas song? Let's go back...
1940's: Christmas music has been around forever, but it really started to become popular in the 1940's. In 1942, Bing Crosby recorded not just the most popular Christmas song of all-time, but for a long time the Irving Berlin-composed "White Christmas" was the most popular SONG of all-time. Gene Autry, The Singing Cowboy, came riding along with "Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer". Big Bands led by Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, and Benny Goodman lent their Christmas swing to the season. And a Canadian-American bandleader/violinist, Guy Lombardo, became popular with his recording of the traditional song, "Auld Lang Syne".
1950's: The 1950's were the beginning of what became known as The Golden Age Of Christmas Music. Inspired by Bing Crosby, a number of crooners including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, and Perry Como recorded some timeless Christmas classics. In 1958, a high jumper and hurdler out of San Francisco State College (and personal friend of basketball great Bill Russell), Johnny Mathis, hooked up with arranger/orchestra leader Percy Faith to record the iconic Christmas album, Merry Christmas. The 1950's also featured what was known as "easy listening" or "mood music", and bandleaders/conductors such as Percy Faith, Mantovani, Ray Conniff, Mitch Miller, and Arthur Fiedler of The Boston Pops recorded some instrumental Christmas music standards. Out of Philadelphia, the son of Italian immigrants, Alfredo Arnold Cocozza - soon to be known as Mario Lanza - supplied his incomparable, operatic tenor voice to some of the most inspirational Christmas carols ever. And, in 1957, Elvis Presley recorded his first Christmas album with Elvis' Christmas Album.
1960's: The early 1960's is arguably the peak of Christmas music recordings. In addition to the above-mentioned 1950's artists who continued to record Christmas albums, crooners like Andy Williams, Tony Bennett, Jack Jones, and Robert Goulet added their voices to the Christmas season. Female singers like Lena Horne, Peggy Lee, Barbara Streisand, and Julie Andrews soon joined in. Instrumental Christmas music was still popular and conductors/composers like Henry Mancini, Bert Kaemfert, and David Rose continued the tradition. Rock/pop Christmas music started to surface with albums by Phil Spector, The Beach Boys, The Ventures, and The Supremes. In 1963, The Beatles began recording annual spoken word and musical "Christmas messages" which were sent out on flexi discs to their fan club members. Country music was represented via Christmas albums by Brenda Lee, Johnny Cash, Eddy Arnold, Jim Reeves, and Chet Atkins. And, annual Christmas TV specials such as Frosty The Snowman, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, and A Charlie Brown Christmas brought us some sentimental Christmas songs from the likes of Jimmy Durante, Burl Ives, and Vince Guaraldi.
1970's: As the 1970's ushered in, many of the greatest Christmas songs had already been recorded, but there was still some very strong Christmas music to come. The Carpenters, with Karen Carpenter's angelic voice, recorded some beautiful Christmas music. Country Christmas music was still going strong with albums by Glen Campbell, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, John Denver, Kenny Rogers, and more Johnny Cash. Motown released their great Christmas album from their Motor City magical groups. Some very popular Christmas singles came along like "Feliz Navidad" by Jose Feliciano, "I Believe In Father Christmas" by Greg Lake, and "Merry Xmas Everybody" by Slade. Oh, and The Beatles weren't through yet...well, kind of. It wouldn't be Christmas without John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" and Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmas Time".
1980's - Present: Some excellent Christmas music continued to be recorded, just not as much. Some might say that the sentimental, spiritual quality of the old Christmas standards was lost. That's up to the listener to decide. All kind of genres continued to be represented. The "A Very Special Christmas" series was a showcase/mixture of popular recording artists, as was the NOW That's What I Call Christmas! CDs. Some great country Christmas music was recorded by Alabama, Martina McBride, Vince Gill, Amy Grant, George Strait, Alan Jackson, and Taylor Swift. Instrumental Christmas music continued to progress with groups like Mannheim Steamroller, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and John Tesh. Great singers like Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Vanessa Williams, Andrea Bocelli, Michael Buble, and Josh Groban carried on the Christmas music tradition with their outstanding voices. Songs like "Last Christmas" by Wham and "All I Want For Christmas is You" by Mariah Carey became Christmas music standards. Pop/rockers like The Moody Blues, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Brian Wilson, Mike Love, James Taylor, Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, and yes, Bob Dylan, all released holiday albums. And if you search a little bit you might find some great Christmas songs by The Band, The Kinks, Tom Petty, The Ramones, Roy Wood & Wizzard, Heart, and Queen.
You won't have to look very far to hear songs by Bruce Springsteen and Nat King Cole. And that's one of the best aspects of Christmas music. You can listen to the radio in the car, walk through a mall, turn on the TV, or you watch a Christmas movie, and often you will greeted by Christmas music from the 1950's standing side-by-side with Christmas music from the 2000's. Where else or when else can you hear two Christmas songs back-to-back from Perry Como and The Kinks, or Nat King Cole and Taylor Swift, or Johnny Mathis and Slade, or Frank Sinatra and Queen. Of course we did get to see and hear Bing Crosby and David Bowie sharing "The Little Drummer Boy"...together. Yes, it's the most wonderful time of the year indeed!