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Archive for December 9th, 2009

We’re into the Christmas season and the airwaves are filled with Christmas specials.  There are the venerable classics such as A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer alongside newer offerings featuring Shrek and other contemporary animated figures.  Some come and go, shown only for a short time.  Perhaps not timeless enough or just victims to ratings.

The specials you never see today are the variety show Christmas specials from the past featuring stars like Andy Williams, Sonny and Cher, the Osmonds and of course, Bing Crosby.  They were goofy contrivances with lots of fake snow and blazing fireplaces on studio sets with terrible jokes and a lot of forced, saccharine  sentimentality.

But I always liked the Bing Crosby Christmas shows.  They weren’t quite as schlocky as the others and you had Bing’s beautiful voice on several holiday classics throughout.  One classic moment came when a young David Bowie appeared on Bing’s last special in 1977, filmed a month before his death.  The show’s producers wanted him to sing The Little Drummer Boy with Bing but Bowie was not a fan of the song and refused.  With the cameras waiting, a new song, Peace on Earth, was written and woven into the other song.  The finished product was done with less than an hour of rehearsal and remains a perennial holiday favorite on radio playlists everywhere.

It’s a great duet and stands up well.  It’s moments like this that make me miss those old specials…

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