Christmas Music and Mistakes

One of my favorite things to do during the holidays is to discover new Christmas music. Each year, I build a massive Christmas playlist that I begin listening to on approximately Nov. 1st at roughly 12am, give or take. This year’s playlist topped out at 519 songs with a total play time of 28 hours and 5 minutes.

Despite the library of Christmas music that I have accumulated over the years, I try to add new music each time Christmas rolls around. This year, I happened upon a song that I had never heard before, which is a very odd thing for yours truly.

Happily, my mind got a bit ahead of my fingers and I mistakenly typed an iteration of Mariah Carey’s perennial hit, “All I Want for Christmas is You.” Rather than typing the song title as it is, I searched instead for “You’re All I Want for Christmas.” Syntax aside (I do believe the latter reads better), I came across Bing Crosby’s 1949 release by the same name.

It’s hubris in the highest form, but I fancy myself to be a bit of a Bing Crosby connoisseur. There aren’t many songs of his that I haven’t heard, whether they be full of Yuletide cheer, or his pop releases dating back to 1939. I would even say that for any music lover, there’s really an obligation to listen to the greatest singer of all-time. And true to form, I thought that I had heard all of Bing’s music, at least his Christmas pieces, but apparently I was mistaken.

Bing’s music has always harkened back to better era by my estimation. There’s something about the style, and sound of music from the 40s, 50s, and early 60s, that just indicates a classier era to me. But a review of 1949 from the Washington Post casts some doubt upon this assumption as it pertains to life more broadly:

During Christmas of 1949, our flights of fancy didn’t run much beyond riding the streetcar, taking a school trip to the local dairy or visiting a government building. Oh, yes, and avoiding the scourge of the day–tuberculosis.

[Link]

As complicated as life is today, at least visiting government buildings isn’t the thrill it once was. We’ve also got tuberculosis more or less contained, which is probably more than we can say for COVID. We’ve also made tremendous progress on a number of other fronts that would have been unthinkable back in 1949.

And that’s all fine.

But “You’re All I want for Christmas”is fundamentally a love song with a simple story: one lover, missing another at Christmas. It reminds the listener that Christmas is not about the stuff we give or get. Rather, it is the relationships in our lives that bring magic to the Christmas season. That Bing Crosby conveys this message with more meaning, and more emotion than any song Mariah Carey has ever written, only underscores that the best of Christmas traditions stand the test of time.

I do hope you enjoy the song above. And here’s wishing you and yours a very, merry Christmas.

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