Monday, November 3, 2014

Nostalgia: Jim Reeves' Twelve Songs of Christmas

(Reclaimed from Bubblews. Topic credit: Realityspeaks wrote . Image that really goes with this post: photo of the record cover here. Image credit: Quicksandala at

"There's an old Christmas card in an old dusty trunk, and it brings back sweet memories dear to me..." is how one of the schmaltzy 1950s-style songs on Jim Reeves' Christmas LP begins.

How many more of them can I remember? In 1973 I'd sung along with this album so many times I could have sung the whole batch in sequence, but after forty-one years...

"C is for the Christ Child..." and on through the letters C H R I S T M A S, "And that's why there's a Christmas day."

"Dear Senor Santa Claus, I think I tell you what I would like for Christmas..." The best and worst thing I can say about this one is that, like Booth Tarkington's African-American characters, the icky stereotype was presented with genuine good will toward the grandparents of the people most likely to be offended by it.

"This is Christmas season, so there isn't any reason we can't dance the Christmas Polka." That was my favorite song, in 1973. I did not know how to dance the polka.

"O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant..." Sing along. The idea of different pop singers singing the same old favorites, just as they were written (it's hard to be sure, given the quality of monaural recording, but I think Ernie Ford recorded this one in the same key), was to make it easy for everyone to sing along. I hate "new, personalized versions" of the classic Christmas carols.

"Jingle Bells," "Silent Night," and "O Little Town of Bethlehem" are other sing-along carols on this album.

"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas..." Bing Crosby also recorded that one. "I'll have a blue Christmas without you..." Elvis Presley also recorded that one. Do you like one version better than another? Neither has ever really been my favorite Christmas song.

But by now the whole album brings back memories of the year we found a secondhand copy in a thrift store and wore it out. This was the last year of my maternal grandmother's life. It was the year my sisters were born--one of them right in the house where I was living at the time. (My brother and I were allowed to spend the morning with relatives, instead of going to school, and rush right home to see the baby.) Lots of distant relatives we hardly knew spent time with us that year. My parents had officially decided that Christmas was not a Christian holiday, so we didn't have a tree, but we had parties and prezzies for about six months, and this was the background music for all of it.

After 1974 we listened to Jim Reeves' Christmas album again, but only once or twice a year, as I recall.

For those who don't have the LP, it's still possible to buy this album online. For those who like mellow, traditional holiday music, it's warmly recommended.