Although stores may have Christmas things in stock right after Halloween, I don't truly begin my Christmas preparations until Thanksgiving week – which, let's face it, is still plenty early. I get ready for Christmas when I do mostly because I love the music associated with the holiday. Heading into Christmas this year, iTunes informed me I had 685 different Christmas songs, a relatively absurd number and certainly too many for a single playlist. The problem for me though is they keep releasing Christmas albums, and I keep buying them. As of this moment, I only have one new album for Christmas this year (and it was sent via a publicist, so I didn't even pay for it… although I certainly would have given the opportunity), and it pushes me over 700 songs.
While I like updates and new songs, there is something about hearing a good old-fashioned crooner roll the words smoothly off their tongue that is just marvelous, and this year's new Christmas album features one of the best crooners ever to grace a stage – Bing Crosby. With 19 classic songs, The Crosby Christmas Sessions is a must-have for anyone with a love of Christmas music.
The earliest of the tracks on the CD, "Here Comes Santa Claus" is from 1949 and a duet with Peggy Lee; the most recent is the 1977 collaboration with David Bowie, "The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth." Things are not spread out quite evenly between those dates, with 11 of the 19 songs having been recorded between 1949 and 1953 for some of Bing's radio shows.
In addition to the Peggy Lee and David Bowie duets, Bing also sings two songs with Ella Fitzgerald and two more with Frank Sinatra. But, whether he is singing all on his own or with someone else, it is Bing's voice that comes through loud and clear. He may not have been the first to record some of these songs, but he certainly makes them his own. Perhaps most notable in this regard is his take on "The Christmas Song," a Mel Torme song, and one that Nat King Cole did brilliantly (and recorded several times). Bing's version of the (now) Christmas standard has that same smoothness Bing also seems to have to his voice, and he nearly makes you forget anyone else may have recorded it. While it may not be the classic version of the song, it would be hard to argue that anyone else's version is better.