I don’t mean to be a curmudgeon, but if I never hear “Jingle Bell Rock”, “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” or the Chipmunk’s Christmas song ever again it will be too soon.
And let me also say that Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmas Time” is an annual reminder of the former Beatle at his absolute “Another Day” worst.
I’m good for one – just one - annual listen of Springsteen doing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” but I’m ashamed to admit it.
What I’m not embarrassed about is my fondness for David Bowie and Bing Crosby’s duet “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy.”
And it turns out that there is pretty good story behind the song…
In September, 1977, Bowie was invited to perform on Bing Crosby’s “Merrie Olde Christmas” TV special. The producers agreed to air the video for Bowie’s newly released single “Heroes” and Bowie joined Twiggy and “Oliver” star Ron Moody as guests on the program.
The original plan called for Bowie to sing “The Little Drummer Boy” but he apparently refused saying “I hate this song. Is there anything else I can sing?”
With just hours before they were due to go before the cameras, Ian Fraser, Buz Kohan and Larry Grossman wrote the “Peace on Earth” counterpoint lyrics and melody that Bowie sings and hammered out an arrangement in just 75 minutes.
Bowie and Crosby rehearsed for “less than an hour” and nailed the take complete with a little sketch at the beginning highlighting the generational differences – and similarities - between the two performers.
No one expected anything much from the number although it did circulate as a bootleg for several years. Finally, in 1982, RCA released it as a single and that’s why you can now hear is seventeen times each day during the holidays.
(Thanks to the Washington Post for details and background .)
Of course, being parodied is the real arbiter of cultural currency these days and Stephen Colbert and Willie Nelson have done the honors with the song “The Greatest Gift” from the DVD “A Colbert Christmas.”