” White Christmas ” is by Bing Crosby ( Harry Lillis “Bing” Crosby, Jr. ), the American singer and actor. The song was written by Irving Berlin.
Producer for the single was Jack Kapp. Jack was the co-founder of the record label Decca Records in 1934.
The song was released on the 30th of July 1942 by record label Decca Records and taken from the set ” Song Hits from Holiday Inn “, a collection of six 78-rpm discs by Bing and Fred Astaire that were more extended versions of songs featured in the film.
Backing vocals for the song were by The Ken Darby Singers, a group of singers led by Ken Darby the American composer, vocal arranger, lyricist and conductor.
John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra are also featured on the song. John continued to work with Bing as his musical director until 1954.
There are varying accounts as to where and when the song was written. One report is that Irving wrote the song in 1940 at La Quinta hotel in La Quinta, California. The hotel and resort were favourite at the time with the Hollywood movie stars who enjoyed the warm, sunny climate.
It is said that while he was relaxing by the pool, he overheard a conversation where the talk was about Christmases past. He listened as they longed for snow, Christmas trees and snowmen.
Irvin took what he heard and used a melody he’d written in 1935 along with two days of writing turned them into a song that would become the biggest selling single in history.
Bing along with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra and the Ken Darby Singers and Chorus took just 18 minutes to record the track.
At first, Bing could not see anything particularly special about the song; he said plainly ” I don’t think we have any problems with that one, Irving “.
The first performance in public of ” White Christmas ” by Bing was during his radio show ( on the NBC network ) The Kraft Music Hall on Christmas Day 1941.
Bing released the song in July 1942 as part of the ” Song Hits from Holiday Inn ” set, later in August of the same year the film was released.
The version of the song that is mostly played today is a re-recorded version from 1947. The master from 1942 was damaged after being used so much. Bing re-recorded the song on the 19th of March 1947 with the same lineup as before. Careful attention was paid to get it to be as faithful to the original as possible, additional flutes and celesta were added to the beginning on the later recording.
At first, the song didn’t catch the public’s attention and only had minor sales. However things changed when the holiday season became closer, and the song started to grow in popularity, especially with the servicemen longing for their home who were stationed overseas. Their Armed Forces Network was flooded with requests for the song to be played.
By the end of October 1942 the song, complete with Bing’s whistling in the second chorus, had topped the Your Hit Parade Chart for eleven weeks and remained there well into the following year.
” White Christmas ” has sold an estimated fifty million copies Worldwide and is recognised as the biggest selling single of all time. A few years ago there was a dispute about the status. Some argued that it was Elton John’s ” Goodbye England’s Rose ” ( a tribute to the late Princess Diana ) was, in fact, the biggest with sales of thirty-three million.
The dispute was settled by the respected Guinness World Records. After careful research, they concluded that ” White Christmas ” was, in fact, the biggest selling single of all time and Elton John’s tribute was the second biggest selling single of all time.
In the movie Holiday Inn, Marjorie Reynolds duets the song with Bing; it is, in fact, the voice of Martha Mears dubbed the performance of Marjorie Reynolds.
Bing felt his role in the success of the song was minimal saying ” a jackdaw with a cleft palate could have sung it successfully “, he will be forever associated with Christmas.
This song was released before music charts became the way to monitor sales.
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