Please enjoy our traditional Christmas Eve post.
On a winter day almost 50 years ago, Louis Armstrong went to work in the den at his home at 34-56 107th Street in Corona, Queens, New York.
That day — Friday, Feb. 26, 1971 — he recorded this:
“The Night Before Christmas (A Poem),” Louis Armstrong, 1971, from “The Stash Christmas Album,” 1985. That LP is out of print, but the original 7-inch single (Continental CR 1001) seems to be fairly common.
(This is the sleeve for that 45. You could have bought it for 25 cents if you also bought a carton of Kent, True, Newport or Old Gold cigarettes.)
There’s no music. Just “Louis Satchmo Armstrong talkin’ to all the kids … from all over the world … at Christmas time,” reading Clement Clarke Moore’s classic poem in a warm, gravelly voice.
“But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight, ‘Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night. A very good night.’
“And that goes for Satchmo, too. (Laughs softly.) Thank you.”
It was the last thing he ever recorded. Satchmo, who was 69 at the time, died a little over four months later, in July 1971.
And now, we’re fulfilling another Christmas wish.
Twelve years ago, when this blog was not even a year old, our new friend Rob in Pennsylvania declared Irma Thomas’ rendition of “O Holy Night” to be “goosebump-inducing stuff.” It still is, and Rob has long since become an old friend, so we cue up this one for Rob every Christmas Eve.
“O Holy Night,” Irma Thomas, from “A Creole Christmas,” 1990. It’s out of print. It’s also on “MOJO’s Festive Fifteen,” the fine Christmas compilation CD that came with the January 2011 issue of MOJO magazine, if you can find that.
Speaking of Christmas wishes, now that our son is in grad school in Maryland, perhaps we’ll get to meet Rob in real life someday.
Enjoy your holidays, everyone.