How did this song become a classic? It’s kind of a melancholy waltz, and the chords are really complicated. It’s not âJingle Bellsââ¦ it’s jazz!
It is titled “Christmas time has arrived”:
Its story begins in 1965, when CBS asked producer Lee Mendelson if he could put together a Christmas special in six months.
Jason Mendelson, Lee Mendelson’s son, recalls: âMy dad called Charles Schulz and he said, ‘Hey, I just sold’ Charlie Brown Christmas ‘to CBS.’ And Charles Schulz said, ‘What this?’ And my dad said, ‘This is something you and I have to write down over the weekend!’ “
Schulz agreed to write the screenplay, but the special would need the right music – and that’s when Mendelson heard a Vince Guaraldi song on the radio.
Guaraldi was a rising jazz pianist from San Francisco; his “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” had won a Grammy. Mendelson thought he had the perfect sound for Charlie Brown.
He was right. Guaraldi’s music became forever associated with Peanuts. But the opening song of the TV special has become forever associated with Christmas.
The song was only piano, bass, and drums, but Mendelson thought it needed to be sung. Over time, he wrote the words himself.
âLee just pulled out some lyrics, like, basically on the back of a paper bag or something,â Cary said Cedarblade.
Christmas time is here
Happiness and cheerfulness
Fun for whatever the kids call
Their favorite time of year
Snowflakes in the air
Ancient times and ancient rhymes
Of love and dreams to share
The children’s singing voices belonged to Cedarblade, Dan Bernhard, Dave Willat and a few other members of the youth choir at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in San Rafael, California. âIt’s fun working with the kids,â Guaraldi said. “And this group here is fabulous.”
Correspondent David Pogue asked, “The recordings you made were probably played and listened to more than most of the greatest pop singers.”
“Yeah, it starts to get a little disheartening when you say it like that!” Bernhard laughed. “Because, you know, that $ 15 isn’t going up!” ”
Children received $ 5 for each recording session. No royalties – not even their names in the credits.
âI mean, it’s true things were a bit hit and miss,â Bernhard said, âbut you have to hang out with people, and it was late at night! ”
Cedarblade added, “And then being a part of this iconic show that really touches people for years and years and yearsâ¦ it’s humbling that way.”
Once the special was ready, Mendelson showed it to the network executives. As Jason Mendelson explains, they hated everything: the music (“What is jazz?”), The animation (“It’s not what you expect”), the story (” Is there religion in there? And are there feelings? “).
But the special was a huge success. He’s won an Emmy, he’s been on TV every Christmas since 1965, and Guaraldi’s sheet music has become one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time.
Guaraldi wrote the music for each Charlie Brown special thereafter, until February 1976.
âHe was playing in a little little club,â said his daughter, Dia Guaraldi, âand he was gone for a break. And he hit the ground and he was dead, during the break from the show.â
Vince Guaraldi died of a heart attack at the age of 47.
âI’m proud of who my dad is,â Dia said. “I’m so blessed with this life because of him for sure.”
Pogue brought together Cedarblade, Bernhard and Willat – who had not sung “Christmas Time Is Here” together since September 1965 – around the piano: “This is it – the reunion tour!”
Christmas time is here
Oh, that we could always see
Such a spirit all year round
Sleigh bells in the air
Christmas by the fireside
And happy memories there
For these three guys, “Christmas Time Is Here” will always be more than a classic. “I am extremely proud to have been associated with it,” said Willat. âI think it gets better with age. I mean, thank goodness Linus reminds us every year what Christmas is.
You can listen to the album “A Charlie Brown Christmas” by clicking on the integration below (free Spotify registration required to listen to the tracks in full):
For more information:
Story produced by Gabriel Falcon. Publisher: Joseph Frandino.