I love this season. This is the only time of year we get to hear many artists who, were it not for the annual dusting off of their records, would have faded into oblivion.
It’s great to hear the opening chords of classics such as “Winter Wonderland” or “Let It Snow” and wonder whose version is about to follow.
Each December (and November now, for some overeager radio stations), we hear standards from Grammy-winning stars such as Perry Como (“There’s no place like home for the holidays ...”), Nat King Cole (“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire ...”), and Simon, Theodore and Alvin (“Me, I want a Hula-Hoop ...”).
Burl Ives was an Academy Award-winning actor and folk singer. Gene Autry was an Oscar-nominated actor and country singer. Yet the only time you hear either anymore is when they sing “Holly Jolly Christmas” or “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
A good holiday tune will outlast a performer’s other accomplishments. Twenty years from now, Adam Sandler will be remembered more for “The Hanukkah Song” than the cornucopia of forgettable movies he’s made.
A poignant Christmas song can even outshine an artist’s other renowned work. Considering its small window of opportunity, John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas” probably gets more airtime over the course of a year than does “Imagine.”
Finally, it seems every possible male/female combination has recorded “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” ranging from the odd couple of Rod Stewart and Dolly Parton to the odder couple of Rudolf Nureyev and Miss Piggy. Surprisingly, the first was by Red Skelton and Betty Garrett in the 1949 movie “Neptune’s Daughter,” where the roles are hilariously reversed.