Welcome back to the countdown!!!
Courtesy of Lee Mendelson Film Productions / MGN
Today we celebrate not just one song, but several from what is arguably the best Christmas special ever made. Last night this holiday favorite aired for the 54th year in a row and yes, I was front and center. It leaves me all warm and cuddly inside while hitting all the points of the season: good will towards men, non-commercialism, listening to special holiday music with people you care about, choosing to decorate (and celebrate, for that matter) in a way that makes you happy, even if that way is not the conventional approach, knowing that anything is beautiful with a little love and the core religious aspect of what Christmas is all about. Plus it stars some of my best friends in the universe, the Peanuts.
Courtesy of Lee Mendelson Productions / MGN
Based on the successful comic strip started in 1950, the animated holiday special was commissioned and sponsored by the Coca-Cola Company which obviously knew a good thing when they saw it. It was the first TV appearance for the Peanuts characters and catapulted them and their creator from a mere phenomenon to super stardom. Merchandise of all kinds was created and it was not just limited to toys. Other items like cookie jars, home decor & accessories, watches, clothing, greeting cards, lunch boxes, Pez dispensers, banks, etc. were also marketed. You name it, it is out there. And today it is still a billion dollar industry that all began with this special from 1965. Not to mention its incredible unforgettable grown-up soundtrack that critic Shawn M. Haney wrote ” “introduce[d] contemporary jazz to youngsters with grace, charm, and creativity.” If this were the only Christmas album I could listen to for the rest of my life, I would be perfectly fine with that (but please don’t tell Bruce Springsteen!!!).
Other Peanuts TV specials followed, as did movies, including a 3-D one in 2015. And the comic strip also continued for the next 35 years. Sadly it came to an end in February 2000 when its glorious creator was forced to retire due to his failing health. He died the day after the last strip was published. His official cause of death was cancer. Unofficially, I think it was due to a broken heart. We all knew from the last words of that final strip how much it hurt to say goodbye to the characters he created who became our beloved friends. His words were ones we could all identify with:
“Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy…..how can I ever forget them?”
Thanks to “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, none of us ever have to. But how do we ever thank you, Charles M. Schulz, for the gift of our dear sweet cherished Peanuts?
“Christmas Is Coming” (1965, instrumental by The Vince Guaraldi Trio, written by Vince Guaraldi in 1965).
“Christmas Time Is Here” (1965, vocal version by choristers from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in San Rafael, California, written by Lee Mendelson & Vince Guaraldi in 1965).
“Christmas Time Is Here” (1965, instrumental version by The Vince Guaraldi Trio, written by Lee Mendelson & Vince Guaraldi in 1965).
“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” (1965, vocal by choristers from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in San Rafael, California based on a 1739 Christmas carol with various writers including Charles Wesley and George Whitefield).
“Linus and Lucy” (1965, instrumental by The Vince Guaraldi Trio, written by Vince Guaraldi in 1965).
“O Tannenbaum” (1965, instrumental by The Vince Guaraldi Trio, written by Vince Guaraldi in 1965).
“Skating” (1965, instrumental by The Vince Guaraldi Trio, written by Ernst Anschutz in 1824).
I do not own the rights to anything. I am just sharing some things that I love with you 🙂
What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?
Until next time, happy listening!!!