This time of the year which usually holds the promise of new CD releases of classic Christmas LPs for the upcoming holiday season is scarcely one to be gleeful about. Aside from two new compilation CDs from Collectors' Choice Music (one for Bing Crosby and one for Perry Como), there unfortunately is nothing else of note to report. This certainly is quite a letdown after the triumph last year with Dulcima Records' release of three of the classic Living Strings/Living Voices Christmas LPs, and my own personal triumph in getting Collectors' Choice Music to release Mantovani's great legendary Christmas LP, Christmas Carols, on CD.
It is my fervent hope that next year Collectors' Choice Music will get back on track with their usually great commitment in releasing long out-of-print classic Christmas LPs with their original album cover artwork. I mentioned this previously on the message board, as well as in a group email to members, but for those who haven't seen it, here are the Top 7 classic Christmas LPs that I am working to get released on CD (preferably by Collectors' Choice Music):
#1) Hallelujah - Percy Faith (Columbia Records)
#2) 'Twas The Night Before Christmas - Fred Waring and The Pennsylvanians (Decca Records)
#3) Christmas Time - Fred Waring and The Pennsylvanians (Decca Records)
#4) The Old Sweet Songs Of Christmas - Frank DeVol (Columbia Records)
#5) Wonderland Of Christmas - Andre Kostelanetz (Columbia Records)
#6) Christmas Holiday For Romance - Stanley Black (London Records)
#7) Music For A Merry Christmas - Frank Chacksfield (London Records)
This next portion of "Chip’s Tips" will for the first time serve as more of a commentary on my part; and to that end it will be short, sweet and right to the point.
The topic: What indeed constitutes a Christmas song?
Over the years I have continually come across a select group of people who seem to have a visceral disdain for a select group of songs that they have unequivocally deemed inappropriate to be dared to be considered Christmas songs, either because they don't specifically mention the word Christmas, or perhaps because they happen to be winter-themed seasonal songs. Among the songs that have been mentioned over the years are Baby It's Cold Outside, Winter Weather, I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm, My Favorite Things and Count Your Blessings.
Quite frankly, I will give you my view in a nutshell: As far as I'm concerned all of the aforementioned songs and any others like them that convey a sense of love, peace, joy, brotherhood and happiness are perfectly fine and totally appropriate in celebrating the Christmas holiday season…period.
The kind of intolerance and contempt that is exhibited by some folks toward these aforementioned songs and other songs like them is completely anathema to the very doctrine that the one who this holiday celebrates promulgated in his short life here on this earth.
The fact of the matter is that many of the contemporary Christmas standards that we have today were never originally written specifically as Christmas songs. Recently on the message board I gave the example of the great American composer Leroy Anderson, who wrote the classic Sleigh Ride. Ironically, Mr. Anderson wrote the song in the middle of a sweltering summer heat wave -- never imagining that someday it would eventually become the Christmas season standard that it is today. However, if the kind of intolerant attitude that I alluded to earlier had been allowed to prevail over the years, not only would Sleigh Ride not have become the Christmas classic that it universally is considered to be today, but also songs like Jingle Bells, Winter Wonderland, Frosty The Snowman, The Skater's Waltz, Jingle Bell Rock, A Marshmallow World, Happy Holiday, Brazilian Sleigh Bells, Toyland, Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, March of the Toys, That Holiday Feeling, Snowfall and Let It Snow.
So then, what is a Christmas song? A Christmas song is whatever the popular culture as a collective whole universally deems and accepts it to be; and thankfully, that will never change no matter how much some may try to argue against it. To reiterate what I previously said on the message board: The joy of this blessed and holy season is expressed in many different interpretations, and many different genres, by many different people -- all of which have a place.
That's a wrap on this edition of "Chip's Tips." Enjoy the fall weather, and don't forget to keep the spirit of Christmas all year through.