by Kevin Burton
Whatever bells may be heard on Christmas Day will not be sleigh bells in large sections of the world, because Christmas falls in the middle of summer, not winter.
This is a special edition of Flying Colors highlighting Christmas songs with colors in the title. You didn’t think we’d leave Christmas out of the series, did you?
Among the songs you are familiar with, there is a Big 4 of colorful Christmas songs. I bet you can think of them off the top of your head. We’ll get to them. But let’s start with songs written with warm-weather Christmases in mind.
I found an absolute gem called “The Silver Stars Are In The Sky,” by Brisbane Biralee Voices from Australia. It’s a great tune and we hit the color jackpot with the lyrics:
“The silver stars are in the sky, the red gold moon is riding high, O sleep my little one sleep. Once long ago against her breast,
A mother hushed her babe to rest, who was the prince of Heaven above, the lord of gentleness and light, O sleep my little one sleep”
“The boobook calls across the night, the brown moths flutter in the light
O sleep my little one sleep. In Bethlehem long, long ago, when roads and paddocks gleamed with snow, on this same night that mother mild lulled into dreams her royal child. So sleep my little one sleep. My little one sleep.
A boobook is a small reddish-brown spotted owl.
For a more contemporary sound try “Six White Boomers” by Rolf Harris.
The song claims that reindeer can’t handle the heat of an Australian summer. So Santa takes them out of harness and uses six kangaroos to deliver presents down under. A boomer is a large male kangaroo.
The song tells the story of a young male kangaroo looking for his mother on Christmas day. Santa and the boomers invite him to hop on the sleigh and they eventually reunite him with his mother.
The chorus: “Six white boomers, snow white boomers, racing Santa Claus through the blazing sun. Six white boomers, snow white boomers, on his Australian run.”
Jennifer Abel, writing on www.comsumeraffairs.com, had the same idea I did but could not find any southern hemisphere Christmas songs. So she took to rewriting the northern ones to fit a summer motif.
To the tune of The Christmas Song, she writes, “Stuffed shrimp roasting on an open Barbie, Foster’s reddening your nose. Slather on sunblock and go to the beach, to feel the sand between your toooooes ….”
Her take on Let It Snow, “Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the A/C is delightful.
And since we’ve no trips to take, let it bake, let it bake, let it bake.”
And Winter Wonderland sounds like this: “Songbirds sing, are you listening? On our brows, sweat is glistening. A hot sunny day,
let’s go out and play, strolling through a summer wonderland.”
Good stuff! But what about that Big 4? Did you guess them? In order of bigness they are “White Christmas,” “Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer,” “Silver Bells,” and “Blue Christmas.”
Bing Crosby’s recording of White Christmas is the biggest selling song ever, with 50 million copies sold, according to Wikipedia. When you add all the other versions Irving Berlin’s composition has sold 100 million copies. That’s straight Christmas nostalgia times 100 million.
“Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer” was written by Robert Lewis May in 1939, according to its Wikipedia entry. Ronald D. Lankford, Jr., described Rudolph’s story as “the fantasy story made to order for American children: each child has the need to express and receive approval for his or her individuality and/or special qualities.”
The most familiar version of “Silver Bells” was recorded in 1950 by Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell for the movie, The Lemon Drop Kid. The song’s inspiration is sometimes attributed to Salvation Army bells. Kate Smith did a popular version of the song in 1966.
If you’re hearing Blue Christmas in your head right now, you’re probably hearing the Elvis Presley version. He tended to do songs that weren’t originally his and own them. Carl Perkins and others came to know that. I don’t think of Blue Christmas as a true Christmas song, but most people do.
I have a song “The White World of Winter” by Bing Crosby. Also Twila Paris did a song called “Whiter than Snow” in a medley with her version of White Christmas.
If you know of other colorful Christmas songs, please mention them in comments below.