Christmas Music Factoids

I felt a little bad about my only Christmas music post being a negative one, even though complaining is more or less the purpose of this site. I considered countering Top Five Worst Christmas Songs with Top Five Best Christmas Songs, but the more I thought about it the more I felt that such a post wouldn’t be remotely interesting. Favorite songs are so subjective, and there’s only so many ways of saying “I like this song – it reminds me of Christmas.”

In the course of researching the last article I found myself wondering about the origins of a lot of the famous Christmas standards that play on continuous repeat every December. The religious songs, of course, all developed from hymns, but what about the secular ones? Many of them are so old and have been recorded by so many artists few people know where they originated.

Since it’s become such a go-to conversation starter for me this month, I thought I’d share some random facts about famous Christmas songs that came up in my Wikipedia perusing:

Brenda Lee, the original singer of Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, was 13 years old at the time of recording.

Baby It’s Cold Outside was written by Tony award-winning songwriter Frank Loesser as a duet with his wife. The two first performed it at the end of their housewarming party in 1944 and the wife, Lynn Garland, was furious when Loesser sold the song to MGM.

The lyrics of the first verse of The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You) were born from phrases songwriter Bob Wells scribbled on a note pad during a brutally hot Summer in order to get into a “colder” mindset – “chestnuts roasting”, “jack frost nipping”, “Yuletide carols”, and “folks dressed up like Eskimos”. Fellow songwriter Mel Torme saw the words and made them into a song.

Judy Garland was the first singer to record Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, for the film Meet Me in St. Louis.

I already revealed this in my other article, but I still can’t believe the recording session for Do They Know It’s Christmas? turned into a coke party when one of the many 80’s rock stars in attendance produced a huge bag of cocaine during the mixing.

White Christmas the song predates the movie White Christmas, and is considered by Guinness to be the best selling single of all time – and NOT just among Christmas music.

There are more than 200 verified recorded versions of Winter Wonderland.

In the Elvis version of Blue Christmas, the backing vocals harmonize in a unique way to create what are called “blue notes” – a play on words with the song title.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman both originated as Gene Autry songs, released one year apart from each other.

According to ASCAP’s list of the top 25 most performed Christmas songs in the US, the 40’s and 50’s were the golden age of Christmas music, with 18 of the 25 songs having been written in those two decades.

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