“Christmas Classics” – Bing Crosby

This CD was released in 2004, though it sounds like the recordings come to us from the 1950s. Bing’s baritone voice fills the room with rich, warm fuzzies and knocks you in the gut like the sack of sweet valencia oranges. Technically, I recommend every track to you, but in keeping with the format of this blog series, I offer these:

4. Medley: What Child Is This?/The Holly and the Ivy
Backed up by a full choir and nothing but a harp for orchestration, Bing does “What Child Is This?” due justice. And how often do you hear the song sung using proper grammar? It’s “whom angels greet…” not “who angels greet…”! ┬áJust as you get settled into its solemnity, the choir takes a slight upturn into “The Holly and the Ivy.” A delightful arrangement tying two themes together seamlessly.

7. The Littlest Angel
[SAP ALERT!]
I discovered this song by accident while trying to find a Bing Crosby tune to add to the HPZ MySpace page (back when MySpace was a thing). It’s probably the most moving song I’ve ever heard Bing sing. I don’t even want to write a lot about it because I’ll just cheapen it. I’ll only say that, during these uncertain times, this song reminds us that the simplest gifts can be the best gifts of all. If you’re listening intently and it doesn’t make you want to huddle up and shed even the smallest tear, check yourself for a pulse.

10. Frosty the Snowman
While I’m not a big fan of this song in particular, Bing’s version is catchy and lighthearted. It’s a straightforward arrangement, but when you add in some xylophones, piccolos, and back-up vocals, you’ve got a playful masterpiece. Try it out, even if you’re not sold on the tune.

13. Do You Hear What I Hear?
Joined again by the full choir, Bing Crosby nails it in this inspiring version of “Do You Hear What I Hear?” Last year, I shared my personally-made Christmas mix with a co-worker, and it included this song. He came back to me after hearing it and marveled (rightly so) at the fact that this must have been recorded live in the studio in one complete take — no edits, no late mixes of vocals and instruments like we see nowadays.

Settle into the “rum-pum-pum” of the solo snare drum but be prepared to feel goose bumps as the song draws out its gradual crescendo into the big finish. This is, by far, one of my favorite Christmas tracks of all time.

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