Throughout December we've been celebrating the big hits of the American Christmas songbook. We started the season with "Santa Baby", continued on to "I'll Be Home For Christmas", and then dusted off Steyn's obituary tribute to Hugh Martin, composer of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas", in which Hugh tells Mark the story behind his famous standard and gives him a unique live performance.
For Christmas week itself, this special Song of the Week audio edition celebrates one of the most beloved seasonal songs, with rare material from the Steyn archive and a special live performance. In this Christmas podcast, Mark visits the home of Mary Ellin Barrett, daughter of the man who gave us "White Christmas", "God Bless America", "Blue Skies" and much more. (That's Mary Ellin with her father at right.) Mark and Mary Ellin gather round Irving Berlin's old piano, the one with the special lever that enabled him to change key while still playing in F sharp. Mary Ellin recalls childhood Christmases in the Berlin household and the mistake her mother found in the verse of "White Christmas", as well as the tragic events of Christmas Day 1928 and the long shadow they cast over the Berlin family. And we'll hear how Irving Berlin's great song sounds on his very own keyboard. All that plus vintage Bing, a wartime warbling by the composer himself, other Berlin songs including the heart-rending "When I Lost You" - and a special live performance by Monique Fauteux, one of the great treasures of Qu├ębec music, who last joined Mark for their bilingual Armistice Day rendition of "Roses Of Picardy".
To listen to this Song of the Week audio edition, simply click the link above. Incidentally, Mark highly recommends Mary Ellin's 1994 book on her father, Irving Berlin: A Daughter's Memoir. And don't forget you can read more about "White Christmas" in Mark's book A Song For The Season.
It's always a musical Christmas at SteynOnline, but especially so this year: As we said above, Mark talks to Hugh Martin, composer of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas". This song is available, along with "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town", "Jingle Bells" and many more, on their full-length Christmas album Making Spirits Bright.
The SteynOnline Hit Parade
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