It’s snowing outside. It started about 5 p.m. It’s going to snow for about 24 hours. When it’s done, we’ll likely have close to a foot of new snow.
When it snowed like that last December, this is what our street looked like. That, my friends, is a winter wonderland.
And that, my friends, is our theme for the next couple of days.
“Winter Wonderland” was written in 1934, with music by Felix Bernard and lyrics by Richard B. Smith. The story goes that Smith wrote the song after admiring a snow-covered park in his hometown of Honesdale, Pennsylvania.
It was first recorded that year by Richard Himber and his Hotel Carelton Orchestra. Later that year, Guy Lombardo and His Orchestra had a hit with it. It really rocked the charts in 1946, when the Andrews Sisters (backed by Lombardo), Johnny Mercer and Perry Como all had hits with it.
It has since become one of the most familiar holiday tunes, even though it’s more about winter than about Christmas.
The ’80s were a good decade for “Winter Wonderland.” Three of my favorite versions came out then.
“Winter Wonderland,” Steve Goodman, from “Artistic Hair,” 1983. Recorded live, he forgets the lyrics, then improvises some unforgettable new lyrics. This otherwise isn’t a Christmas album, but it’s certainly worth getting for live versions of “Elvis Imitators,” “Chicken Cordon Bleus,” “City of New Orleans” and “You Never Even Call Me By My Name.”
“Winter Wonderland,” Eurythmics, from “A Very Special Christmas,” 1986. These days, this is the most frequently heard version of the song. And why not? Annie Lennox’s voice is terrific, as is the percussion by Dave Stewart and Richard Feldman. Drum machines, to be sure, but entirely appropriate.
“Winter Wonderland,” Alexander O’Neal, from “My Gift To You,” 1988. It’s out of print. Buy it if you ever see it. This is one of my all-time favorite Christmas records. The smooth R&B and soul singer goes with a big band arrangement on this one, recorded at the peak of his U.S. success.
It’s still gonna look like a winter wonderland around these parts on Wednesday, so stop back for more.
One more thing: I’d like to do some all-request posts, but I need your requests! We have some, but there’s room under the tree for more.