Please enjoy our traditional Christmas Eve post.
On a winter day now more than 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 long 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. Satchmo, gone 51 years now.
And now, fulfilling a Christmas wish.
Fifteen 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.
Enjoy your holidays, everyone.