Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
The two greatest Christmas songs of all-time, without a doubt came from the 1940’s:
Bing Crosby’s White Christmas and Nat King Cole’s The Christmas Song.
For the past four weeks or longer, I’ve listened to SIRIUS Satellite radio in my car and their two back-to-back Christmas music stations.
One is contemporary: 98 Degrees, Destiny’s Child, Christina Aguilera. Bah Humbug!
The other is classic: Sinatra, Bennett, Elvis, etc. JOY TO THE WORLD!
The discrepancy got me thinking. Even entertainment lightweights like Boyz II Men are recording holiday traditions. Those will never die. What happened to originality? Are all the great Christmas songs decades old? What is the last great Christmas song?
What about the 50’s?
"Jingle Bell Rock," Bobby Helms
“Blue Christmas," Elvis Presley
"Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree," Brenda Lee
"Run Rudolph Run," Chuck Berry
"Santa Baby," Eartha Kitt
"The Little Drummer Boy," Harry Simeone Chorale
"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," Jimmy Boyd
“Mary's Boy Child," Harry Belafonte
All good stuff, but certainly something earlier came along that we can categorize as great.
“Please Come Home For Christmas," Charles Brown
"Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," Darlene Love
"The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)," David Seville and the Chipmunks
"A Holly Jolly Christmas," Burl Ives
"Merry Christmas Baby," Otis Redding
"Pretty Paper," Roy Orbison
“Christmas Time Is Here," Vince Guaraldi Trio
"Little Saint Nick," The Beach Boys
"Someday at Christmas," Stevie Wonder
"Happy Xmas (War Is Over)," John Lennon and Yoko Ono
This Christmas," Donny Hathaway
"Feliz Navidad," Jose Feliciano
"Wonderful Christmastime," Paul McCartney
"Christmas in Hollis," Run-D.M.C.
"Do They Know It's Christmas," Band Aid
"Hard Candy Christmas," Dolly Parton
"Hey Santa," Wilson Phillips
"Same Old Lang Syne," Dan Fogelberg
The 90’s and beyond
"The Christmas Shoes,” Newsong
"All I Want for Christmas is You," Mariah Carey
The 90’s? Don’t insult me.
The 80’s? Please.
What makes a great Christmas song?
How about the emotion it stirs?
Some wonderful songs came out of World War Two. Try “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” The tender song captured the heartache and longing, the suffering created by the great distance of loving family members. Sad but enduring, these songs stand the test of time, especially today when loved ones are off in foreign countries fighting for peace and freedom.
How about a great singing voice?
A lush, beautiful arrangement?
About.com writes about this 70’s Christmas tune:
“If this sounds like an artifact from an earlier time, it sort of is -- this gentle, warm ballad of longing was actually written back in 1946 by one Frank Pooler, a lovestruck young teen who went on to become musical director at California State University at Long Beach. When brother-sister duo Karen and Richard Carpenter attended ‘The Beach’ in the mid-Sixties, their instructor Pooler played the song for them, remarking that he'd never been happy with the melody. Richard reworked it and re-recorded it in 1970, and it was rush-released for the holidays, but not a huge hit. Over the years, it's become a standard, however, due perhaps in part to a re-recording of Karen's lead vocal in 1978 -- apparently she was dissatisfied with her dry run, too. “
In my view, this recording boasts all the ingredients. It has that war-time, classic 1944 sound and feel to it and yet, it’s from another generation. Still, it fits, and always will.
The last great original Christmas song is 1970’s “Merry Christmas Darling" by the Carpenters.
Have a different suggestion?
Comment away, and Merry Chrtistmas!