Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Xmas 2011 sleevenotes

The very last act of last Christmas . . .

As I do most years, I put together a Christmas music compilation. I put this year's on Dropbox and made it available to everyone on my blogmail list. At the same time I promised some sleevenotes. Somehow, life intervened and I didn't post what I'd got and I decided a little more detail would be good — especially as I made you wait so long. Then I realised it wouldn't fit into one blogpost — or at least it would make an incredibly long one. So I decided to post one track note a day. Then I realised that some of them needed a little work. So I started fixing them. Anyway, you get the idea.

Finally, though, it's good to view. I will be posting one track note a day, over the next twenty days. You can still download the tracks from my Dropbox if I sent you an email letting you know about the compilation. If you haven't got that or have lost it or have just come to this blog for the first time, email me or post a comment and I'll send you a link.

Oh, one more thing. Where it says 'see below' or somesuch, it is referring to a future post.

Here goes the first of twenty . . .

1 Silver Bells Doris Day

Not as old as you’d think. It debuted in 1950, sung by Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell in The Lemon Drop Kid, a crime comedy. Like Guys and Dolls, it’s from a Damon Runyon story.

Nor was it much of a hit. The first time it charted in the UK was with the Terry Wogan and Aled Jones version, in 2009. That was a charity record. Still, you ask, what did a charity do to deserve that?

It was written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, both Jewish — like so many of the most famous Christmas song makers. Irving Berlin and Mel Torme, naturally, but also Johnny Marks (see below) and Bob Dylan (see below). And, of course, Michael Carr, author of The Little Boy That Christmas Forgot, with its final lyrical flourish: ‘I’m so sorry for that laddy, he hasn’t got his daddy’. Carr, ne Maurice Cohen of Leeds, grew up in Dublin, was the son of boxer Cockney Cohen and also wrote South Of The Border (Down Mexico Way).

Livingston and Evans won three Oscars. For Buttons and Bows, in Bob Hope’s 1948 comedy Paleface — that’s the movie with the ‘leans to the left, shoots to the right’ gag. For Mona Lisa, sung by Nat King Cole in the completely forgotten 1950 Alan Ladd spy thriller, Captain Carey USA. And for Que Sera, Sera, which was debuted by Doris Day in Hitchcock’s 1956 remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much).

Doris Day liked this song so much she recorded it twice, in 1950, and again as the lead track on 1964’s The Doris Day Christmas Album. This is the earlier version.

Next up Frosty The Snowman

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