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Straight No Chaser - A Jazz Show

Welcome to Straight No Chaser, the Award-winning Podcast hosted by Jeffrey Siegel

Dec 22, 2010

For me, nothing matches "White Christmas" to get one in a holiday mood. I think it's the nostalgia and general good vibes that come from the wistful lyrics and memorable melody.

It never fails to amaze me that this Christmas classic was written by a practicing Jew, Irving Berlin (as was "Easter Parade", as a matter of fact). Accounts vary as to when and where Berlin wrote the song. One story is that he wrote it in 1940, poolside at the Biltmore hotel in Phoenix, Arizona. He often stayed up all night writing — he told his secretary, "Grab your pen and take down this song. I just wrote the best song I've ever written — heck, I just wrote the best song that anybody's ever written!"

Given that scenario, we should note that there are opening bars that are often left off recordings of the song. They go:

The sun is shining, the grass is green,
The orange and palm trees sway.
There's never been such a day
in Beverly Hills, L.A.
But it's December the twenty-fourth,—
And I am longing to be up North—

The classic version of the song is by Bing Crosby, the best-selling single of all time, with estimated sales in excess of 50 million copies worldwide. Today we bring you a version by Kurt Nilsen, from his new CD Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Nilson rose to fame in Europe for winning the Norweigen version of "American Idol" in 2003, followed by the European version the next year.