White Christmas is one of the most popular Christmas songs that has stood against the test of time. It is always part of the songs played in malls and other public areas during the Holiday Season. But did you know that the original singer had to re-record it three years after it was initially released?
Bing Crosby had to record a new version of his famous “White Christmas” song in 1947 because due to its popularity, the original version he recorded in 1942 was already worn out. This is the version of the song we’ve learned to love.
The Story Behind “White Christmas”
White Christmas was written by the famous lyricist and composer Irving Berlin, responsible for other hit songs like Cheek to Cheek, God Bless America, and Alexander’s Ragtime Band. Berlin wrote the song in 1940 and was performed by singer Bing Crosby in the Kraft Music Hall radio show on Christmas day of 1941.
Unlike other holiday songs, which are usually joyful and festive like Let It Snow and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, White Christmas strikes a gloomy mood. Its melancholic nature usually strikes people’s ambivalent feelings during the holidays.
Berlin’s inspiration in writing the film was also sad in nature. Berlin, a Russian-born Jewish, does not celebrate Christmas. But tragedy struck on December 25, 1928. Berlin’s three-week-old son, Irving Berlin Jr., died on this day. As a family tradition, the Berlins visit their son’s grave every Christmas day while snow is falling. (Source: Fantastic Facts)
The Popularity of White Christmas
Bing Crosby recorded White Christmas in 1942, two years after Berlin wrote it. The song premiered on live radio on Christmas day. Within a year, it became a smash hit. It then became part of the hit parade pop chart every Christmas season for the next twenty years. (Source: Fantastic Facts)
In 1947, Crosby had to re-record the song. The original master tape had worn out because it was constantly repressed to meet the demand due to its popularity. To date, the song has become the biggest-selling single of all time. It has been bought more than 50 million times. The single became so popular that in 2012, Guinness World Records named it Best-Selling Single. (Source: U Discover Music)
The songwriter initially wrote the song for a Broadway revue that didn’t proceed. White Christmas was later used for the 1942 musical film Holiday Inn which starred Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. Berlin won his first Oscar for Best Original Song in 1943 because of this film. Berlin never imagined that the song would be a success after the movie, but it kept its momentum.
The song became so popular that it was a regular song played on the Armed Forces Radio. It was constantly being requested for American soldiers to spend Christmas on the frontlines of the war. Troops always asked Bing Crosby to sing the song whenever he performed for them. And the singer had mixed emotions in performing it because he didn’t want the soldiers to feel sad. He often tried to remove it from his song list, but the soldiers continuously chanted for it. (Source: American Song Writer)
Throughout the years, many singers covered the song, and here are the ten most wonderful versions of White Christmas.
- Frank Sinatra in 1944
- Elvis Presley in 1957
- The Supremes in 1965
- Lady Gaga in 2011
- Jessie J and Meghan Trainor in 2018
- Darlene Love in 1963
- The Drifters in 1956
- Bette Middler in 2003