White Christmas: The Story of an American Song. … This became the start of speculation as to where Berlin was when he wrote the song. Country Living editors select each product featured. And for more about the music technology of the era, read “How a 1920s Technology Changed Music.”. According to Jody Rosen, author of White Christmas: The Story of an American Song, the song may have been drafted in or near Los Angeles, but it was undoubtedly finished in New York or at the Berlin family’s weekend house in the Catskills. On that day, Berlin appeared in his business office to meet with Helmy Kresa, the fellow who scored his music. Bing Crosby was the first to sing this song on his radio show on Christmas day in 1941. The only other song to come near this—and perhaps surpass it—is Elton John’s 1997 recording of Candle in the Wind, a song he wrote in 1973 in memory of Marilyn Monroe but re-recorded in 1997 after Princess Diana died. Directed by Michael Curtiz. She included the first verse. Since then, "White Christmas" has been covered by everyone from Elvis to Karen Carpenter to Lady Gaga—but its timeless message remains the same. White Christmas is a popular song which was written by Irving Berlin. His songs, listed here,  have been and are still recorded by top performers. This 8-line song that paints a picture of holiday nostalgia was written by Irving Berlin for the 1942 movie Holiday Inn, where Bing Crosby sings it from the perspective of a New Yorker stranded in sunny California during Christmas. They heard White Christmas not as a spoof but as a longing for days “just like the ones I used to know.”  The lyrics took on a whole new meaning for soldiers on their way overseas. When the sheet music came back from the publisher, there was a typo: I. Baline became I. Berlin. With 50 million copies sold, not only is Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" the best-selling Christmas song of all time, it's also the best-selling single ever, according to Guinness World Records. White Christmas. Long after the film disappeared, “White Christmas” kept going, Crosby’s recording sold more than 30 million copies – more than any other pop song in history. When Berlin came in, he announced that he wrote the song “over the weekend.” The Berlin family was in New York through the holidays that year, so he must have written or at least polished it there. She included the first verse. He wrote "White Christmas" for a musical that eventually morphed into the movie Holiday Inn and ended up winning an Academy Award for the song. It first aired during the Kraft Music Hall radio show (yes, sponsored by the food company) on December 25, 1941. Few critics even mentioned “White Christmas” in the reviews. Irving Berlin and Bing Crosby were forever united by what turned out to be one of the best decisions either of them ever made. While most other holiday songs promise a time of unmitigated joy and merriment, the melancholy undertone of White Christmas continues to appeal. Like writers of all types, Berlin had a habit of writing something and putting it away if he wasn’t satisfied. Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen, and Danny Kaye in a scene from "White Christmas" Then-host, Bing Crosby, crooned the carol, which is soulful, longing, and sad anyway, but especially so at the time. As Berlin envisioned it, the song would be part of a musical revue. In 1942, one million copies of sheet music and 2 million copies of Bing Crosby’s recording sold…it was huge, and it’s a big part of holiday music every year since. Crosby was already a big star. In 1954, it was the title track of another Bing Crosby Christmas musical, White Christmas. It was a simple song: just 54 words and 67 notes. After “Holiday Inn” I will be watching “White Christmas”, Love the old movies! Michael Curtiz behind the scenes during the filming of "White Christmas," a movie/musical that released January 1, 1954. Berlin would provide a holiday-themed score that would take viewers through the year of holidays. Though many tie the song "White Christmas" to the movie, the song was first performed by Bing Crosby 13 years earlier, on the radio show The Kraft Music Hall. In 1940, hit composer Irving Berlin, best known for “God Bless America,” was commissioned to write a Christmas song for a new movie starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. “Fairy tale” holidays are rare, and White Christmas reminds us that others, too, identify with the song’s ambivalence. What caught Berlin by surprise, however, were the requests for White Christmas on radio starting in the early fall. Izzy had a fine singing voice and a superior ear for music. General Waverly's Columbia Inn in fictional Pine Tree, Vermont, made it's debut a decade before, in Holiday Inn. The Armed Forces Network was flooded with requ… In the film, the song begins with this verse: The sun is shining, the grass is green. Will this year’s holiday ever equal the ones of the past? The song was written by Berlin for the musical film Holiday Inn, released in 1942. At 16, he became a singing waiter at the Pelham Café in Chinatown in New York City. Tabulating record sales was low on America’s “to do” list. The composition won the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 15th Academy Awards. Written by Irving Berlin and made famous by Bing Crosby, White Christmas is the quintessential Christmas song of mid-20th century American popular music. "White Christmas" is an Irving Berlin song reminiscing about an old-fashioned Christmas setting. And isn't so saccharine that it makes me want to punch reindeer like some other movies I may or may not have just mentioned. The song White Christmas was written by Irving Berlin and was first recorded and released by Bing Crosby with Ken Darby Singers and John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra in 1942. The country was at war. The song’s popularity and staying power proved irresistible to Hollywood executives who in 1954 released the hit feature film “White Christmas” starring Crosby and Danny Kaye. White Christmas was to become the most popular Christmas song ever written. White Christmas was actually the most successful movie in 1954, bringing in millions of dollars and securing “White Christmas” as a beloved song by kids and adults of all ages. 10 Houseplants That Can Survive the Darkest Corner, Ben & Erin Napier Talk 'Home Town' Season 5, 93 Best Easy Low-Carb Recipes With Tons of Flavor. Exact numbers are difficult to pin down even by the careful staff of Guinness Book of World Records. A 16-bar verse led into a 32-bar chorus, and with almost all songs it was the chorus that people remembered. More about us. For composer Berlin — who also wrote “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” and “God Bless America” — “White Christmas” was an unexpected hit. "I hesitated about doing it because invariably it caused such a nostalgic yearning among the men, that it made them sad," Crosby said in an interview. Then in 1989, Rosemary Clooney (1928-2002), star of the 1954 movie, White Christmas, recorded the song. The song Berlin wrote for this scene, “Be Careful with My Heart,” was the first real hit that came out of the movie in August of 1942. This is a photo montage of the classic 1942 movie 'Holiday Inn', which is one of my favourite old Christmas movies. He began composing with a partner, and because he performed what he wrote, he learned about audience reaction and what makes a song a crowd-pleaser. His verse, which set up the satirical scene he envisioned, was: Berlin rapidly saw that the soldiers took a very different sentiment from White Christmas, and he wanted to honor the spirit of his listeners. Irving Berlin knew his recently finished song, White Christmas, was a good one. His father, a cantor, had trouble finding steady work in America, so the children accepted after-school jobs. Some of you will try and argue with me using It's A Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street, but you will be wrong (sorry Erin).This movie has it all -- love, comedy, singing, dancing! Izzy, as Irving was then called, sold newspapers and delivered telegrams during grammar school. The song initially performed poorly and was overshadowed by the film's first hit song: "Be Careful, It's my Heart". Berlin imagined the lyrics and the tune; Crosby could evoke just the right feeling. “White Christmas” is an Irving Berlin song reminiscing about an old-fashioned Christmas setting. He called these his “trunk songs.”. ", "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas/With every Christmas card I write/May your days be merry and bright And may all your Christmases be white". (It has often been noted that the mix of melancholy — "just like the ones I used to know" — with comforting images of home — "where the treetops glisten" — resonated especially strongly with listeners during World War II. The deal he made with Paramount was that White Christmas would be part of the film only if Paramount managed to sign Bing Crosby (1903-1977). But by October, “White Christmas” had hit #1 on the charts and had blown the first single out of the water. Berlin's three-week-old son had died on Christmas day in 1928, so every year on December 25, he and his wife visited their baby's grave, Jody Rosin, author of White Christmas: The Story of an American Song, told NPR. He wrote "White Christmas" for a musical that eventually morphed into the movie Holiday Inn and ended up winning an Academy Award for the song. The movie was supposed to reunite Crosby and Astaire for their third Irving Berlin extravaganza of song and dance. It was constantly requested by troops during Bing's USO appearances overseas, which gave the singer some mixed feelings. The song—written in 1940-41 was introduced at a time when sheet music sales were more important than record sales. History and facts about White Christmas. It remained in that position until well into the new year. 9. The movie "White Christmas" was released in 1954 and became the leading box-office draw of 1954. Crosby's rendition quickly became an American favorite, even though the original radio recording was lost and the 1942 version, which is said to have only taken 18 minutes, was worn out, according to Seattle's KUOW. "White Christmas" the song was also featured in the successful Crosby/Astaire film "Holiday Inn" in 1942. White Christmas is the greatest classic Christmas movie ever made, imho. Using just 54 words and 67 notes Irving Berlin composed White Christmas over the holiday season of 1940. The first time the song was introduced to his staff was on January 8, 1940. So it was dropped. When the recordings by other artists are added to Crosby’s, the sales of the song reach a very impressive 150 million. For many years, no one thought about the original first verse of the song. White Christmas was also originally written as a satire. But his time at the Pelham Café gave him invaluable experience. The following year (1942), many of the “plays” of the recording were on Armed Forces Radio, at a time when the world was at war. "The kind of deep secret of the song may be that it was Berlin responding in some way to his melancholy about the death of his son," Rosen said. By introducing a song to the public in this way, the companies hoped to stimulate sheet music sales.). You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io, Pamper Any New Moms You Know With These Gift Ideas, 42 Fitness Gifts for the Gym-Lover in Your Life, 49 Sweet Gifts to Give Your Husband This Year, The Best Winter Movies to Watch All Season Long, Shop These Christmas Tree Storage Bag Options, All the Best After Christmas Sales in 2020, Best Gingerbread Dessert Ideas for the Holidays, Christmas Recipes That Healthy Eaters Will Love, Alfred Eisenstaedt/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images, John Swope/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images. • “White Christmas” was picked to be included in the 1942 Bing Crosby movie Holiday Inn—both Crosby and his producer thought that the song wouldn’t have much worth outside of the movie with that verse. Berlin went on to be one of the most successful songwriters of all time. When Holiday Inn was released in 1942, the hit song was as expected: Be Careful It’s My Heart, which tied into the Valentine’s Day celebration at the fictitious Holiday Inn. White Christmas is a 1954 American musical film directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen.Filmed in Technicolor, it features the songs of Irving Berlin, including a new version of the title song, "White Christmas", introduced by Crosby in the 1942 film Holiday Inn.. The gimmick was that it was a “holiday inn,” open for overnight guests only on holidays. White Christmas (uncredited) Words and Music by Irving Berlin Sung by Bing Crosby Reprised during the finale by Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and … Country Living participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites. Not as well known is the fact that Irving Berlin wrote the song. Songs like White Christmas, written during the Tin Pan Alley era, had a prescribed format. To read the story of how the song, White Christmas, was part of the coded signal about the fall of Saigon, click here. The success of the song led eventually to a movie based on the song. Speaking generally, however, the Bing Crosby recording of the song has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide. Maybe not, but we can always dream and share our dream with others. Berlin found the assignment a challenge for two reasons: As a Jewish man who had grown up in an Orthodox household, he had no real experience with Christmas. By the end of the War it had become the biggest-selling single of all time. "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas/Just like the ones I used to know/Where the treetops glisten and children listen/To hear sleigh bells in the snow". On November 21, White Christmas began a 10-week run on top of the Hit Parade. White Christmas, a song of peace and yearning for "the ones we used to know," was released to a war-torn public during the darkest days of World War II. By late December of 1941, Americans were enlisting in the military in record numbers as America mobilized for war. Then in 1989, Rosemary Clooney (1928-2002), star of the 1954 movie, White Christmas, recorded the song. “But I heard you sing it last night on the Hollywood Palace show. It was written by Irving Berlin (the same composer behind "Cheek to Cheek," "God Bless America," and many more classics), a Russian-born immigrant who, interestingly enough, did not celebrate Christmas, as he was Jewish. He taught himself the basics of piano playing, but he was never skilled at it, nor did he ever learn to write music. Berlin was worried the song’s popularity would die down, but his worries were unfounded. America's favorite Christmas song actually has a pretty dark back story. The film helped earn “White Christmas” the Oscar for Best Song in 1943, and over the course of the 1940s the song climbed to #1 on the charts several times. This became the start of speculation as to where Berlin was when he wrote the song. And Christmas as we spent it in the 50’s through 80’s, Pingback: Beloved Christmas carols: White Christmas, by Irving Berlin - Musicology for Everyone, Your email address will not be published. Berlin—ever the savvy song plugger–was happy about this as he planned a push for White Christmas closer to the December holiday. After his father died in 1901, Izzy left school and supported himself as a “song plugger.” (Sheet music companies hired “buskers” or “song pluggers” to travel the city and perform new songs in saloons, vaudeville theaters, and on street corners. For this reason, several times I tried to cut it out of the show, but these guys just hollered for it. According to Erskine Johnson (Los Angeles Mirror, December 21, 1954), the melody was written in August 1938, then left on the shelf for four years (actually two years) until Berlin was signed by Paramount to write Holiday Inn. Here’s how White Christmas became one of the most successful songs ever. Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters recorded White Christmas late in 1954, a version which has since gained popularity.The song was also the title theme for the 1954 musical White Christmas, starring Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen, which was … He got a huge hit with and the first public performence took place at Christmas Day 1941. A successful song-and-dance team become romantically involved with a sister act and team up to save the failing Vermont inn of their former commanding general. Required fields are marked *. It was covered by Bill Perry [1], Blue Seven, Tim McKee, The Overtones [GB] and other artists. On December 7, 1941, a surprise attack by the Japanese did unfathomable damage and caused great loss of life at the American port at Pearl Harbor. President Franklin Roosevelt summoned his military leaders to the White House and ordered a bombing raid on Japan. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site. "White Christmas" is a holiday tradition beloved by millions. In 1954, it was the title track of another Bing Crosby Christmas musical, White Christmas. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the version sung by Bing Crosby is Wonderful story, wonderfully told. And may all your Christmases be white. Not only is the best song I’ve ever written, it’s the best song anybody’s ever written.” Beloved Christmas carols: White Christmas, by Irving Berlin - Musicology for Everyone. The set on the Paramount lot was refurbished for the next Christmas classic. The song “Snow,” originally called “Free,” was written by Irving Berlin himself. Irving Berlin’s White Christmas has notched many top positions on “best-selling” and “most–recorded” lists. It continues to be a December perennial, recorded by many solo artists and orchestras. That spring (1940), Berlin signed to do a musical for Paramount. “It’s a little late—after almost twenty-seven years—to send you a fan letter about White Christmas,” wrote Irving Berlin to Bing Crosby in 1967. Curtiz was born in Hungary on December 24, 1886. Berlin would sing the song and work carefully with Kresa, until the melody Kresa wrote sounded just as Berlin heard it in his head. Clearly, they identified with the wistful lyrics about holidays at home. This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. Song Hits Right Note He notified his publishing company that going forward all recordings and sheet music should be published without the first verse. Pearl Harbor had been attacked just a few weeks before. It turns out, the song has a sad back story too. It is also the name of a 1954 movie, and an album by Bing Crosby which was originally titled Merry Christmas. Casting for the film and early rehearsals for Holiday Inn began in the autumn of 1941. By October, White Christmas was topping the charts. What's the Meaning of "Sweet Home Alabama"? The song was already the most successful song of all time in sales - this movie must have added to that success considerably. He liked it so much he told a secretary “I’ve just written a new song. This content is imported from YouTube. The plot Berlin had in mind featured a vaudeville performer retiring to run a country inn. While many assume the song “White Christmas” was at the root of the movie, Crosby had actually first performed his version of the song 13 years earlier for a radio show. In the midst of planning for Holiday Inn, Berlin, Crosby, and all Americans were rocked by national tragedy. It's also the most popular song, ever. Taysha Murtaugh was the Lifestyle Editor at CountryLiving.com. Irving Berlin (1880-1989) was born Israel Baline in Tyumen (part of western Siberia). "Heaven knows, I didn't come that far to make them sad. The song was called Marie from Sunny Italy. HGTV Is Premiering White House Christmas Special, True Story Behind 'The Man Who Invented Christmas', The Real Story Behind the Song "Moon River", 'A Christmas Story' Live Musical Event Is Happenin. By the end of October 1942, however, it topped the "Your Hit Parade" chart. When people today talk about White Christmas, the conversation usually begins with, “Did you know it was written in Beverly Hills?” or “…Palm Springs?” The thought of this ballad to a wintry white holiday being written by a pool in 80-degree weather seems to fascinate. He knew the song was good. White Christmas is a Christmas song strongly connected with Bing Crosby. His first published song—written and published while he was still at the Pelham Café—led to his name change. Your email address will not be published. The verse of White Christmas became problematic for Berlin when he saw what people looked for in listening to the song. Just a few days after this—December 24, 1941—Bing Crosby introduced White Christmas, perhaps as a note of hope, on his highly successful radio broadcast, Kraft Music Hall. It inspired musicals and numerous renditions by various artists, and its popularity remains unchanged to this day. With Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen. "White Christmas" is a song written in 1940 by Irving Berlin, and released in 1942 by Bing Crosby. It would be performed tongue-in-cheek by sophisticates, drinks in hand, standing around a Hollywood pool surrounded by palm trees. So was White Christmas written in California? “White Christmas” – the song, is the most popular song of all time and it was written by a Jewish man during the summer in California. Songwriters Hugh Martin and Ralph Blaine wrote the classic song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" for Judy Garland's 1944 movie, Meet Me … He was the youngest of eight children, six of whom emigrated with their parents to the U.S. in 1893. The success of the song led eventually to a movie based on the song. If you buy from a link, we may earn a commission. Not only were you the first, but you remain the best.”, Later Berlin was to write that after Berlin first played White Christmas for Bing Crosby at Paramount, Crosby said, “You don’t have to worry about this one, Irving.”. 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