Christmas Story

The Original Radio Broadcast Holiday medley includes, “Let’s Start the New Year Right”, “Abraham”, “Be Careful, It’s My Heart”, “Easter Parade” and “White Christmas” and was recorded on December 14, 1944 for the Kraft Music Hall program. Based on the movie “Holiday Inn”.

“White Christmas” was written in 1940 by a Irving Berlin for the 1942 movie “Holiday Inn” starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. Berlin’s assignment was to write a song about each of the major holidays of the year. But Berlin, who was Jewish, found that writing a song about Christmas was the most challenging. He drew upon his experiences of the holiday in New York (including Christmas Trees erected by neighbors when he was a boy) and Los Angeles, but still felt that the end result was wanting. However, when Bing first heard Berlin audition “White Christmas” in 1941 he reassured Irving that he had created a winner. Bing’s preliminary evaluation turned out to be a gross understatement.

Bing Crosby introduced “White Christmas” to the public on his NBC radio show, the Kraft Music Hall, December 25, 1941. Apparently, no recording of this broadcast survived the War. He then recorded the song for Decca on May 29, 1942, with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra. “Holiday Inn” was released in August, 1942.

By the end of the War it had become the biggest-selling single of all time. Bing’s recording hit the charts on Oct. 3, 1942, and rose to #1 on Oct. 31, where it stayed for an amazing 11 weeks. In the following years Bing’s recording hit the top 30 pop charts another 16 times, even topping the charts again in 1945 and January of ’47. The song remains Bing’s best-selling recording, and the best-selling Christmas single of all-time.

The success of the song led eventually to a movie based on the song. The movie “White Christmas” was released in 1954 and became the leading box-office draw of 1954. The movie was supposed to reunite Crosby and Astaire for their third Irving Berlin extravaganza of song and dance. However, Astaire bowed out after reading the script (another source says that Astaire was ill at the time). Donald O’Connor was selected to replace Astaire, but he, too, had to exit because of a back injury. O’Connor was replaced by Danny Kaye.

Bing’s single of “White Christmas” sold more than 30 million copies worldwide and was recognized as the best-selling single in any music category for more than 50 years until 1998 when Elton John’s tribute to Princess Diana, “Candle in the Wind,” overtook it in a matter of months. However, Bing’s recording of “White Christmas” has sold additional millions of copies as part of numerous albums, including his best-selling album “Merry Christmas”, which was first released as an L.P. in 1949.

The most familiar version of “White Christmas” is not the one Crosby recorded in 1942, however. Bing was called back to the Decca studios on March 19, 1947, to re-record “White Christmas” as a result of damage to the 1942 master due to its frequent use. Every effort was made to reproduce the original Decca recording session, once again including the John Scott Trotter Orchestra and the Ken Darby Singers. The resulting re-issue is the one that has become most familiar to the public. However, the 1998 MCA double-CD “Bing Crosby — The Voice of Christmas,” includes the original 1942 release as well as three other versions by Bing.

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