Title: Fred Waring & The Pennsylvanians: Jingle Bells & Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
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Christmas Music Guru
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Status: Lawrence F. Arcuri Owner/Webmaster of TheYuleLog.com
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(Date Posted:08/21/2010 22:02)




 


Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians in all their grandeur and elegance at the Roxy Theater in New York City during their golden years; they were truly the personification of class, style and sophistication.



One of the all-time great titans of Christmas music was the legendary Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians.

 

Known as “The Man Who Taught America How To Sing” and “America’s Singing Master, Fred Waring was a pioneer who single-handedly popularized the concept of choral music in America throughout a career that spanned more than 60 years. His accomplishments included radio, television, motion pictures, music education and, of course, a prodigious catalog of recorded music. He was the first to feature vocalists with an orchestra, the first to combine an orchestra with a glee club, and the first to present a weekly musical show for television (The Fred Waring Show, 1949-1955). In addition, The Pennsylvanians over the years also boasted some great alumni, including future music legends Robert Shaw and Harry Simeone, to whom Mr. Waring was a dear and cherished mentor. He was truly an American treasure, and it is not an understatement in any way whatsoever to say that all choral groups that came after owe an indebted thanks to the great Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians.

 

In this In the Spotlight tribute, I am now able to feature here via my new YouTube channel two classic songs from Mr. Waring’s legendary Christmas LP, ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas. By the way, this album, along with its sister album, Christmas Time, hold two coveted and well-deserved positions in the ultra Top 10 of my Top 500 , coming in at #5 and #6 respectively.

 

Up first is his classic version of the contemporary Christmas standard, Jingle Bells. If you’ve never heard it before, then I implore you to sit back and relax, because you are in for a real treat. The song was done in Fred Waring’s classic and inimitable “round robin” style, meaning everyone, and I mean everyone, in the group played a part: the Orchestra, the Glee Club and several of the group’s outstanding Soloists. Not to mention, by the way, the seven (that’s right, seven!) arrangers who contributed to this great song, including the great Roy Ringwald and the equally great Harry Simeone. I’ve known this song and this album now for over 40 years from my earliest years growing up, and I have only come to love it more and more every year. It’s always the album that traditionally kicks off my Christmas music playing season, and from the opening notes of this lead-off song, you’ll know why. You’ll hear the Pennsylvanians really kicking it up in a merry, jolly and festive way that not only sets the tone for the song, but the entire album.

 

Recorded in 1950, Jingle Bells was originally released on the 10” LP version of Christmas Time. Then, in 1955, Decca Records added it to the expanded 12” LP version of ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas, and that’s when the album was released with that famous, enchanting and legendary cover by the great American artist, Norman Rockwell. And just for the record, Mr. Rockwell’s title for his wonderful drawing which adorns the album’s front cover was “Caught Napping.”

 

Folks, Christmas music just doesn’t get better than this. So, here now, without further ado, for your listening enjoyment and pleasure, is Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians’ great classic version of Jingle Bells:






For my second selection in this In The Spotlight tribute to the great Fred Waring, I present to you a song which is legendary in its own right: It’s the Pennsylvanian’s classic recording of another contemporary Christmas standard, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. I’ve had many inquiries about this song over the years from folks trying to find it; but sadly, like all of Mr. Waring’s Decca Christmas recordings, it is tragically out-of-print.

 

With this next selection of the Pennsylvanians’ classic rendition of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, if anybody ever needed proof that Mr. Waring’s sense of humor was equal to his great sense of music, then this song is bonafide proof. It was arranged by the great Livingston Gearhart and features that dynamic threesome, The Teen Trio, as well as several of the group’s wonderful soloists who do the “funny parts” -- including longtime Pennsylvanian (and I mean longtime -- he dates back to the early 1920s!) Poley McClintock, who hysterically does the voice of Santa Claus. If you’ve never heard this one before, then get ready yet again for another great and legendary Fred Waring Christmas classic -- and one certainly for the ages:





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Lawrence F. "Chip" Arcuri
Owner/Webmaster | The Yule Log.com

Christmas Cheers
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RE:Fred Waring & The Pennsylvanians: Jingle Bells & Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
(Date Posted:08/22/2010 21:40)

Great piece Chip and fantastic music. I couldn't help but recognize Mr. Waring's "Jingle Bells" from the film "A Christmas Story". Since the movie was set in the 1940's, it makes perfect sense that this whimsical version would be a part of the soundtrack. 
Anyone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I distinctly recall hearing the piano solo as Ralphie scaled Santa's slide for, perhaps, the film's most iconic moment......the Santa "you'll shoot your eye out kid/boot to the forehead".

Again, I appreciate all of your spotlights and I apologize for the slight change of direction. Please keep these coming.

Oh..one more thing. Chip, you mentioned that Mr. Waring starts your Christmas music listening season. When does your season begin(I always figured that with your immense knowledge and appreciation for all things Christmas, that you listened all year.)?


Cheers,
Bob
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".....Isn"t that glorious? Its...its indescribably beautiful...It reminds me of the Fourth of July."

Christmas Music Guru
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RE:Fred Waring & The Pennsylvanians: Jingle Bells & Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
(Date Posted:08/23/2010 01:46)


That's correct, Bob; Fred Waring's classic Jingle Bells was indeed the song that was playing in the background during the "Santa" scene in Higbee's department store in the movie A Christmas Story. And yes, the portion of the song that was playing at the moment Ralphie was climbing the slide was indeed the piano solo. By the way, that piano solo was done by the great Livingston Gearhart.

Oh, and a definite yes to your question about whether I play Christmas music all year through. However, my "official" Christmas playing season begins October 1st. It used to be November 1st, but in order to cover everything in the 1st Tier of my Top Play (albums 1-125), as well as a good portion of the albums in my 2nd Tier (albums 126-250), I had to move it up to October 1st. I didn't move up my decorating, though; I still do that in early November.

Thanks for your comments and glad you enjoyed my tribute to Fred Waring.


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Lawrence F. "Chip" Arcuri
Owner/Webmaster | The Yule Log.com

johnnyelectron
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RE:Fred Waring & The Pennsylvanians: Jingle Bells & Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
(Date Posted:08/24/2010 11:38)

Speaking of Fred Waring, an LP that I've long lost given-up hope for showing up on CD has appeared on the Collector's Choice Music website as a Sinatra import!  It was made after the death of JFK and has patriotic and Christian songs: America I Hear You Singing featuring Sinatra, Bing and Fred Waring!  A local radio station, WJR, back in the 1980's would play "You've Never Had it So Good" each and every Thanksgiving Day until they stopped the great musical programming on WJR at the 'turn of the century' and went to the propaganda political hogwash.  How sad, this music will never see the light of day on the radio anymore.

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Motown Mike
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RE:Fred Waring & The Pennsylvanians: Jingle Bells & Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
(Date Posted:12/17/2012 08:18)

johnnyelectron, was it Ted Strasser's "Patterns in Music" show that would feature that song every Thanksgiving on WJR? I remember how my grandmother loved that program.
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johnnyelectron
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RE:Fred Waring & The Pennsylvanians: Jingle Bells & Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
(Date Posted:12/17/2012 09:39)

Motown Mike, yes, I'll bet it was Ted's "Patterns in Music" or maybe a program with Mike Whorf as well.
Their early Sunday morning music programming is certainly missed, and Mike Deja also did a great job playing Christmas Music and the stories behind the songs during his tenure during the 1990's on "Patterns in Music" on WJR - in AM stereo then too. 
Broadcast radio is so disappointing now; XM radio was great until their forced merger with Sirius cleaned house of most of the excellent music personnel from the XM side of the business.

The only beacon on XM is Channel 69 "Escape" where some great Christmas music is mixed-in with the regular beautiful music programming (it just returned today!)
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