Categorized | Editorial

Five Things You Might Not Know About Classic Christmas Songs

Posted on 26 December 2013 by admin

For about six weeks at the end of every year, people everywhere are bombarded with the sounds of Christmas songs filling the air. The department stores play holiday tunes like crazy, and several radio stations go “All Christmas” for the month of December. Every song has a story, and here are five facts about some of your favorite holiday songs.

5. Wham! Got Sued For “Last Christmas”. In 1984, the single “Last Christmas” hit #2 on the UK Christmas Singles Chart, a coveted spot for European artists. An enormous hit, still covered by artists to this day, “Last Christmas” sounded familiar to Arnold/Martin/Morrow, the songwriting team behind “Can’t Smile Without You”, a huge hit song for Barry Manilow in the late 70s. The publishing company behind “Can’t Smile” sued George Michael (songwriter of “Last Christmas”) for using the same melody, and the case was settled out of court, with the money going to the Band-Aid charity.

4. “Have Yourself…” Was a Depressing Little Christmas Song. In 1944, Judy Garland sang “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” in the movie Meet Me In St. Louis, introducing the world to an instant holiday classic. When Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane originally wrote the song, however, the lyrics were quite different than the song everyone has come to know and love. The opening lyrics to the song originally were “Have yourself a merry, little Christmas/It may be your last”. The changes helped the song, apparently, since the it has become one of the top five most-recorded Christmas songs in history.

3. We Almost Had Tinkle In Our “Silver Bells”. Jay Livingston and Ray Evans wrote the 1950 Christmas song “Silver Bells” as a reference to the Salvation Army, whose workers stand on street corners every Christmas and ring hand bells while seeking donations. When Livingston’s wife heard their original idea, she informed her husband how people were most-commonly using the word “tinkle” those days. Rather than let this bad news pee on their parade, Livinston and Evans changed the name and chorus to “Silver Bells”, sparing themselves embarrassment and giving the world one of the greatest Christmas songs ever written.

2. A Heat Wave Inspired Some Chestnut Roasting. 1944’s “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” became a huge hit for singer/songwriter Mel Torme and his writing partner Bob Wells.

1. “White Christmas” Beats Everybody. In 1941, when Bing Crosby recorded and released the song “White Christmas”, he didn’t think anything was terribly special about it. He told Irving Berlin, the song’s composer, that he thought it was a fine song with “no problems”. He also thought that anyone could have made the song popular and downplayed his role in its success. The song didn’t perform that well when it was initially released (for the movie Holiday Inn) but suddenly took off a year later. It charted numerous times over the next several years and was one reason Billboard magazine created a chart just for Christmas songs.

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