White Christmas, December 23: A Treat

In the 1940s popular music often wasn’t immediately, or ever, associated with an individual performer – many versions of songs would be recorded, and the composer generally given the lasting credit. Which is why, I’m thrilled to be able to tell you, there were FOUR versions of White Christmas recorded and released in 1942, and here they all are in a playlist that I have made using science. It’s interesting that the first three (by, in order, Gordon Jenkins, Charlie Spivak and Freddy Martin, though in each case those are the names of the bandleaders rather than the singers, who feature as “guest vocalists”) are all quite like each other and not a great deal like Bing’s (and, because unfamiliar, much more instantly evocative of that era than Bing’s).

The version of Bing that we had on December 1, incidentally, was from the movie Holiday Inn, whereas this is the solo recording which you probably know better, so I tricked you when I said we were getting Bing over and done with at the beginning. Sorry.

Advent song for December 1: White Christmas

What do you think is the most famous Christmas song in the world? I don’t know the answer, but if White Christmas isn’t the most famous, it is definitely the Christmas song with the most recorded versions: so many that this year’s musical advent calendar will consist of twenty-four different recordings, and I’ll still have to leave some good ones out. If you think that sounds repetitive, just wait. (Plus, don’t tell me you wouldn’t be happy to listen to White Christmas once a day throughout December even if it was always the same version.)

Of course, Bing had to go first or last, and since there’s no surprise if I leave him for Christmas Eve, we get to enjoy him today. Happy Advent!




Advent song for December 12

All David Bowie’s duets are odd, but this is the oddest.  (Not including that one from Labyrinth which he sings with a monster.)  What makes this, of course, is the bizarrely stilted run-up, which is reminiscent of nothing so much as the early scenes of a 1970s porn film.

Hi, I’m David Bowie, I live down the road

What sort of music do you play?

Oh, mostly…contemporary stuff – do you like modern music?

Oh, I think it’s marvellous.