Christmas Stories: 12 Of My Favorite Christmas Records Of All Time

It doesn’t feel completely accurate to say that my wife and I like Christmas music. We freaking love it. We both come from homes that celebrated old school classics as well as newer material. As a result we have a pretty solid and impressive collection of Christmas music. In fact, we actually have an iPod dedicated specifically to Christmas music. When my wife got a new iPod, we took her old mini (which very appropriately is green), cleared out all the old stuff and loaded it up with holiday tunes. As soon as Thanksgiving’s over, we pop that bad boy on and dig those tunes until Christmas. I figured it would be a good time to lay down a list of some of my favorite records to listen to around this time. Hit the jump to dig these crazy tunes. Continue reading Christmas Stories: 12 Of My Favorite Christmas Records Of All Time

Christmas Stories: White Christmas (1954)

In my mind,Holiday Inn and Whilte Christmas will forever be linked. Not only do they¬† both star Bing Crosby, include the song “White Chrimstas” and take place in a big inn in the country, but they also involve lots of singing and dancing thanks to songs by Irving Berlin (again, just like HI). This time around, Crosby’s teamed with Danny Kaye and their love interests are Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen respectively. Crosby’s already a famous song and dance man in this one, but he went into the army to fight in WWII, where he met Kaye. Kaye saves Crosby’s life and convinces him to form a duo. Both become very successful and end up meeting the ladies because one of them forges a letter to them, claiming to be their brother, who served with the men in WWII. The guys fall for the girls and Kaye connives his way into following the girls to Vermont where they’re schedule to play an inn that just so happens to be owned and operated by their general from WWII. Since the weather has actually been pretty warm, no one’s going to Vermont, so the guys bring their act up there and end up doing a surprise party for the general. There’s also a lot of back and forth relationship stuff that would probably just confuse people who haven’t seen it.

Like all the other older Christmas movies I watch, I came to this one thanks to my parents and used to always get it confused with Holiday Inn. The plots are pretty similar, but I like that this one’s in color and the dance numbers are more upbeat. They even do a faster dance version of the Abraham Lincoln song (the one with the infamous blackface routine), plus a tongue-in-cheek Fosse-ish dance that pokes fun at the new-for-the-time style. There’s a lot of good humor and nice moments. The songs, for the most part are good, though I’m not a big fan of “Snow.” That’s just one small song though. Oh, also, Rosemary Clooney was quite the looker back in the day. I see where George gets his looks.

Christmas Stories: Holiday Inn (1942)

Well, I already failed in my plan to do one of these Christmas Stories posts every day of December leading up to Christmas. Last night I got a little carried away enjoying some cocktails, watching Funny People with the missus and then skipping between SNL and a Jay-Z concert on the Madison Square Garden channel (yup, that exists). Anyway, Em and I (mostly Em) decorated the house today and even though both of our football teams got beat by seemingly worse teams, we had a pretty good day. We even capped the afternoon off by watching one of our favorite Christmas movies Holiday Inn.

This 67-year-old classic starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire is a favorite of my mom’s. Every year when I was younger, my mom would put on older Christmas movies like this, White Christmas, The Bells Of Saint Mary, Miracle On 34th Street and, of course, It’s A Wonderful Life. When I went away to college, she sent me a copy of this and a few of the others, which is how Em first saw it and she’s been hooked ever since.

The story revolves around Crosby and Astaire who were a pair of song and dance men working the New York club circuit. Crosby wants out, so he buys an inn in Connecticut and eventually decides to turn it into a club that’s only open on holidays. So, you get treated to all kinds of big huge holiday-themed dance numbers and some great comedic moments stemming from the fact that Astaire (who stayed in the song and dance business and also stole Crosby’s soon-to-be-fiance away from him on his last night in the biz) wants to steal away Crosby’s first hire and love interest played by Marjorie Reynolds. This follows a fantastic drunken dance scene. Crosby tries all kinds of tricks to keep the two apart, for fear of losing his number one squeeze again (like Crosby changing the tempo of the Washington’s Birthday number so they can’t get too close).

I’m not the biggest fan of musicals, but the ones I do like are backstage musicals, ones where the singing and dancing makes sense because it’s a being done by people in the musical/singing/dancing business. Sure there’s a few times when characters start singing out of nowhere, but it’s forgivable. You also get treated to “White Christmas” several times which Crosby’s character writes in this universe.

Okay, it’s impossible to talk about Holiday Inn without bringing up the one thing the movie has become relatively infamous for: blackface. To celebrate President Lincoln’s Birthday (which used to be it’s own holiday), most of the inn’s staff is in blackface singing and dancing. Even Crosby comes out in it, as does Reynolds with her hair done-up all kinds of ridiculous. It’s certainly cringe-worthy and I can understand why it would rub people the wrong way, but it doesn’t feel like it was done with malice, just an unfortunate time capsule from a time when that was socially acceptable. So, THAT happens.

So, if you’re feeling in the mood for a black and white musical that not only celebrates Christmas but most of the other holidays full of charming people with great voices and who are light on their feet, this is where it’s at in my opinion.