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Friday, November 20, 2009

It's Beginning....

... to look a lot like, well, you know the rest. Yes, the holidays are upon us. Every year people bemoan the fact that "the holiday season starts earlier and earlier." Well, it actually doesn't. It starts the same time every year. It's just the fact that it always starts before Halloween that makes it seem that way. But I don't care. Fall and Winter are my favourite times of year. I don't think Christmas is my favourite holiday - it's over too soon, and always anticlimactic once you're older than, say, 13. I just like the coldness, the leaves falling, the sounds, the smells - oh, the pumpkin pie, the stuffing, cookies baking, cinnamon, apple cider, cocoa, peppermint... and the music. I am a Christmas music guy. I love it. It's funny though... although I like all the songs, my favourites are not the most well-known. Although I'm a Bing Crosby fan, his best Christmas song in my opinion is not actually a Christmas song, but rather a Winter song. And a bit of an obscure one at that.

I remember when I first heard it. I had been to Lavells newsagents in my home town of Tenterden, Kent, UK for a browse, and near the counter there was a carousel of Christmas cassettes, you know the sort, the cheap compilations that proliferate everywhere this time of year. Usually kind of disappointing, either re-recordings by the original artist that lack the oomph of the original, or recordings culled from radio broadcasts or live performances that lack the high quality sound of a studio LP. Anyway, I bought some, because, well, what can I say? Money burns a hole in my pocket. It was near the counter. An impulse buy.

One of these tapes was titled 'Christmas With Bing'. Anyway, aside from the usual Christmas fare there were a couple tracks that stood out to me. One was a medley, taken from a radio broadcast, that included Bing's sons Gary, twins Dennis & Phillip, and Lindsay. The medley was of 'The Snowman', 'I'd Like To Hitch A Ride With Santa Claus', and 'That Christmas Feeling'. But the standout track to me was a song entitled "The First Snowfall". A song that I had never ever heard. A wonderfully evocative song, full of great imagery of snowdrifts, sleighing, belly-whoppin' and feeling young "...and a man becomes a boy once again." I have only ever heard one other version of this song since, and that was by The Carpenters, and only as part of a medley along with Let It Snow for their '78 Christmas TV special.

Enjoy the song. No visuals unfortunately because I can't find a YouTube video of it. No matter. Lean back in your chair, relax, sip some hot cocoa and close your eyes to this song.

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