Bing Crosby (With Ken Darby Singers And John Scott Trotter And His Orchestra) – “White Christmas.” (Decca Records A-550, 10” 78 rpm, 1947.)
After talking about Bing Crosby in the previous post, I can’t help but dive straight into the biggest Christmas song of all time: Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” as sung by Bing in the 1940s. For many people this is the song that epitomizes Christmas. Not only is it the biggest Christmas song, it is the best-selling single song of all time, having been credited by Guinness World Records with over 50 million copies sold worldwide. When taking into account its inclusion in album and other sales, estimates run up to 100 million copies sold. That’s some record!
The story behind the song is pretty interesting and there’s a nice Wall Street Journal article by Roy J. Harris Jr. that you can read entitled “The Best Selling Record of All: “White Christmas” and the Reasons It Endures.”
My copy of the song (pictured above) is from a set of four records that was released as the album Merry Christmas in 1947. “White Christmas” had first appeared in the 1942 film Holiday Inn, starring Bing and Fred Astaire, and it won the Academy Award for Best Original Song that year. I was excited to come across this copy at an estate sale some years ago. I have only two of the four records that were included in the original album, and they’re in what appear to be the original Decca paper sleeves. My current turntable doesn’t play 78s, so I don’t know how this record sounds, but it appears to be in fairly decent condition for being 67 years old! Here’s what the cover of the original 1947 album set looked like:
With a few track additions once the 33-1/3 Long Play format came to the forefront in the 1950s, this is essentially the same album that’s been in print since 1947. You may be more familiar with it from the cover that has been used ever since it appeared as an LP in 1955:
I have to admit that “White Christmas” isn’t my favorite Christmas song, or even my favorite Christmas song by Bing Crosby. It’s still a very fine song and certainly central to the popular Christmas music canon. I’ve always loved the swinging Christmas tunes that Bing did with the Andrew Sisters (several are featured on this album,) and perhaps my favorite Christmas song by Bing is a really great duet of “Silver Bells” that he performed with Ella Fitzgerald. But you can’t deny the enduring power that “White Christmas” has had as one of the great Christmas tunes of all time.
Well, it ain’t really Christmas until you hear Der Bingle croonin’ this one, so here you go, a shortened version of the song featuring a video montage of Bing singing it at different times of his life, courtesy of the Official Bing Crosby VEVO/YouTube Channel. May your days be merry and bright!