After struggling all night to write a song about Christmas, Irving Berlin, who was Jewish, 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 written.”
The song was “White Christmas”, performed by Bing Crosby in the 1942 film, “Holiday Inn”, and it would become the biggest-selling single of all time by the end of the War, three years later.
One can only imagine how this magically simple song might have resonated with listeners during World War II. Released a year after the disaster at Pearl Harbor that finally brought the Americans into the War, this soothingly melancholy tune – a request-favourite on the Armed Forces Network – was a warming solace for soldiers overseas, just dripping with honeyed images of home.
The recording won an Oscar for Best Original Song and spent three separate runs at the top of the U.S. charts.
That was seventy-two years ago. Since then, it’s become a perennial hit every single year at Christmas time, having now sold more than 50 million copies. It’s now a modern-day Christmas Carol, and in many ways, has become a hymn.
Here’s wishing all my readers a merry and bright holiday – white or not – with the help of Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas”: