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Thursday, December 24, 2015

The 40s Christmas Song That Has Outsold Everything Since

White Christmas cover image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blogWhat's the best selling record of all time? No, it's not Thriller by Michael Jackson (reported numbers are said to be inflated so it's difficult to even tell how many copies it's sold).

It's actually "White Christmas," recorded by Bing Crosby and written by songwriting legend Irving Berlin.  The single is said to have sold over 50 million copies alone, with sales of the album putting the total over 100 million.

Recorded in 1942 just after the World War II started for the US and debuted in the movie "Holiday Inn" with Crosby and Fred Astaire, it's widely held that the war actually had a lot to do with the song gaining popularity. Since millions of troops were overseas and longing for family, the song brought a little bit of comfort and the feel of home. From that point onward, it's become ingrained in our consciousness as a standard that's played constantly throughout the holiday season.

There's a lot that's interesting about songwriter Irving Berlin, as well. He was self-taught and could only play using the black keys of F#. Probably because he was self-taught, he also frequently wrote with unusual cadences, and many times never bothered to write a bridge, which was contrary to the songwriting technique of the time.

Still, the song has outlived hundreds of competitors over time with more introduced every year. Despite all the famous songs that Berlin wrote that everyone somehow knows, ("Alexander's Ragtime Band,""Easter Parade," "There's No Business Like Show Business," "God Bless America."), "White Christmas" will be the one he's best remembered for.

So if you really want to make your mark as a songwriter, write a holiday song.

1 comment:

Dan Lueders said...

The ironic thing is that fact that Irving Berlin being Jewish and writing the most endearing Christmas song of all time.


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