Blue Christmas (song)
|File:Elvis Presley Blue Christmas 2.jpg|
|Single by Elvis Presley|
|from the album Elvis' Christmas Album|
"Wooden Heart" (447-0720)|
"Santa Claus Is Back in Town" (447-0647)
November 9, 1964 (447-0720)|
November 26, 1965 (447-0647)
|Recorded||September 5, 1957Radio Recorders, Hollywood, California,|
|Genre||Christmas, Pop, Rock and roll|
RCA Victor 447-0720|
RCA Victor 447-0647
|Writer(s)||Billy Hayes, Jay W. Johnson|
|Elvis Presley singles chronology|
This page is a soft redirect.}
"Blue Christmas" is a Christmas song written by Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson and most famously performed by Elvis Presley. It is a tale of unrequited love during the holidays and is a longstanding staple of Christmas music, especially in the country genre.
Initial recordings and major versions
The song was first recorded by Doye O'Dell in 1948, and was popularized the following year in three separate recordings: one by country artist Ernest Tubb; one by bandleader Hugo Winterhalter and his orchestra; and one by bandleader Russ Morgan and his orchestra (the latter featuring lead vocals by Morgan and backing vocals by singers credited as the Morganaires). Tubb's version spent the first week of January 1950 at No. 1 on Billboard magazine's Most-Played Juke Box (Country & Western) Records chart, while Winterhalter's version peaked at No. 9 on Billboard's Records Most Played by Disk Jockeys chart and Morgan's version reached No. 11 on Billboard's Best-Selling Pop Singles chart. Also in 1950 Billy Eckstine recorded a new version, backed by the orchestra of Russ Case, with shortened lyrics in a variation close to what is now the common standard for this song; the orchestral backing of this recording has often been wrongfully accredited to Hugo Winterhalter.
Elvis Presley cemented the status of "Blue Christmas" as a rock-and-roll holiday classic  by recording it for his 1957 LP Elvis' Christmas Album. Presley's version is notable musicologically as well as culturally in that the vocal group the Jordanaires (especially in the soprano line, sung by Millie Kirkham), replace many major and just minor thirds with neutral and septimal minor thirds, respectively. In addition to contributing to the overall tone of the song, the resulting "blue notes" constitute a musical play on words that provides an "inside joke" or "Easter egg" to trained ears.. "Blue Christmas" was also included on a 1957 45 EP (Extended Play) entitled "Elvis Sings Christmas Songs" (EPA-4108), which also included "Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)" on side one, with "Santa Claus Is Back In Town" and "I'll Be Home For Christmas" on side two. Presley's original 1957 version was released as a commercially-available single for the first time in 1964. This single was also a hit in the United Kingdom, reaching No. 11 on the British singles chart during the week of 26 December 1964.
The American rock band The Beach Boys recorded a version featuring Brian Wilson on lead vocals, releasing it in the US on November 16, 1964, in two separate formats simultaneously:
(a) the B-side of the "The Man with All the Toys" single.
(b) a track on The Beach Boys' Christmas Album.
The Beach Boys' version reached No. 3 on the U.S. Christmas charts but did not chart in the U.K.
Following the success of Presley's version, the song has been recorded by a host of rock and country artists, as well as some working in other genres, with over sixty-five recorded versions:
- A 1960 version recorded by The Browns peaked at No. 97 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in December 1960.
- In 1963, The Platters recorded their version of the song on album Christmas with the Platters.
- In 1963, Patti Labelle and The BlueBelles recorded their version on album Sleigh bells, Jingle bells, and Bluebelles.
- In 1963, Jim Reeves recorded blue christmas for his album Twelve Songs Of Christmas.
- In 1964, twenty-year-old Brenda Lee recorded her version for the album Merry Christmas from Brenda Lee.
- In 1978, Misfits recorded live the song at Max's Kansas City
- The most successful version of the song in the United Kingdom was recorded by Shakin' Stevens. His 1982 version of the song peaked at No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart (behind "Save Your Love" by Renée and Renato).
- In 1995, alt-rock band Collective Soul's version was included in the You Sleigh Me: Alternative Christmas Hits compilation. The previous year, it was included in the band's fan club CD.
- In 1997, ska band The Toasters covered the song on their album Christma-ska.
- In 1999, Mary Margaret O'Hara (sister of actress Catherine O'Hara) released Christmas EP, featuring a slow, bluesy version of the song, with strong support from Hugh Marsh (violin), Rusty McCarthy (guitar), David Piltch (bass), Don Rooke (lap-steel), and Michael Sloski (drums).
- In 2005, Kelly Clarkson performed the song at the Sony Ericsson Christmas Calling television special that aired on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom. In 2013, she recorded a studio cover of the song for her sixth studio album Wrapped in Red.
- In 2008, a duet of the song by Elvis Presley and Martina McBride featured on the album Christmas Duets and reached #36 on the US Country Chart. It was also included on a re-released version of McBride's White Christmas album in 2013, entitled The Classic Christmas Album.
- In 2009, REO Speedwagon covered the song on their Not So Silent Night...Christmas with REO Speedwagon album, sung by bass guitarist Bruce Hall.
- Bruce Springsteen sang the song live at The Carousel in Asbury Park, New Jersey on December 7, 2010 with the E Street Band. The intimate concert, in front of approximately 60 fans, was Clarence Clemons' last performance with the E Street Band. The performance of the song "Blue Christmas" was then included in the bonus part of the Bruce Springsteen DVD The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town in 2011 with four other tracks from the concert.
- A 2011 version of the song recorded by Michael Bublé was included on his holiday album Christmas. Capitalizing on the blues influence of earlier covers, the Bublé recording applies the fire of traditional New Orleans polyphonic jazz and a larger big band sound.
- In 2012, Lady Antebellum recorded a cover of the song, which was included on their Christmas album On This Winter's Night.
- In 2012, Rod Stewart released a cover of the song for his first Christmas album Merry Christmas, Baby.
- In 2013, Polkadot Cadaver recorded a cover of the song featured on their Christmas EP From Bethlehem to Oblivion.
- In 2013, Misfits re recorded the song for their Christmas EP Horror Xmas.
Use in film and television
- In 1974, the song was featured in the children's Christmas special The Year Without a Santa Claus.
- In 2009, Elvis' version was used in a TV commercial for Verizon Wireless.
- In 2011, Damian McGinty (as his character Rory Flanagan) sang the Elvis version of the song in the Christmas episode of TV series Glee, titled "Extraordinary Merry Christmas" (aired on December 13).
- Badman, Keith. The Beach Boys. The Definitive Diary of America's Greatest Band: On Stage and in the Studio Backbeat Books, San Francisco, California, 2004. ISBN 0-87930-818-4 p. 72
- Badman, Keith. The Beach Boys. The Definitive Diary of America's Greatest Band: On Stage and in the Studio Backbeat Books, San Francisco, California, 2004. ISBN 0-87930-818-4 p. 58
- Greene, Andy (30 November 2011). "Readers' Poll: The Best Christmas Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Jann S. Wenner. Retrieved 8 December 2011.
- http://www.russmorganorchestra.com/russ.html: see table section "Vocalists with Band Included"
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Christmas in the Charts (1920-2004). Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 50,62. ISBN 0-89820-161-6.
- Billy Eckstine, All Of My Life, Jasmine 2-CD set, 2008, featuring a photo of the actual single
- "Elvis SongPedia, Blue Christmas".
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Christmas in the Charts (1920-2004). Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 25. ISBN 0-89820-161-6.
- Sony Ericsson Christmas Calling: The Soundtrack to Your Season. December 11, 2005. 60 minutes in. Channel 4.
- Kelly Clarkson: Blue Christmas: Christmas Calling (VIDEO) (Television production). Youtube. 2005. Retrieved October 18, 2013.
- Malach, Maggie (September 5, 2013). "Kelly Clarkson Releases 'Wrapped in Red' Track Listing". PopCrush. Townsquare Media. Retrieved September 6, 2013.
- Blue Christmas lyrics
- Music video featuring Elvis Presley and a superimposed Martina McBride
- Full lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics