Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney in "White Christmas" (Everett Collection)
I'm not trying to rush Christmas, and I know full well (even if the big box stores – with aisles of red and green already abutting the spooky sea of black and orange – do not) that we have to wait until Halloween is over before the Christmas decorations go up. But today is the 35th anniversary of Bing Crosby's death Oct. 14, 1977, and that overwhelmingly means one thing…
It's a great time to listen to "White Christmas."
Penned by Irving Berlin, it was Crosby's biggest hit, and with good reason – and it encapsulates everything we love about the holiday season. You've got nostalgia: "just like the ones I used to know." Communicating with old friends: "with every Christmas card I write." The joy of watching kids enjoy the holiday: "and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow." And, of course, snow!
Crosby's recording of "White Christmas" was massively popular when it was released in 1941, and then the following year when it was featured in the hit film Holiday Inn starring Crosby and Fred Astaire. The song was so popular, in fact, that within six years, the master recording was completely worn out after being duplicated so many times. In 1947 Crosby had to re-record the song, striving to come as close as possible to the original. The subtle changes didn't hurt the song's success, and by 1955 it had become the world's best-selling single, thanks in part to another popular Crosby movie released in 1954. The film costarred Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen and was aptly-titled White Christmas.
Today, amazingly, "White Christmas" is still the top-selling single of all time. With more than 50 million copies sold, it's millions of pressings ahead of the next-best-seller, Elton John's "Candle in the Wind." And that's not the song's only distinction. It's also far and away the most-recorded Christmas song of all time, with more than 500 versions in existence from stars such as Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, Perry Como and Ernest Tubb, Andy Williams and Doris Day and Bob Marley and Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift and even the New Kids on the Block.
But there's one version that is, without a doubt, the very best. I think we all know which one it is.
Written by Linnea Crowther