Few Christmas songs have become more indelibly imprinted in American culture than Irving Berlin’s tune “White Christmas.” Since its release in the early 1940s, the song has been recorded and covered more than 500 times. However, the Bing Crosby version not only is the best-known among them, but in 2007, the Guinness Book of World Records documented Crosby’s version as the best-selling single, ever. Of the 100 million total copies of “White Christmas” sold, over half of them are sung by Bing Crosby.
The song was first debuted by Crosby on the radio on Christmas Day, 1941, and subsequently released on the soundtrack for his film Holiday Inn. Ironically, the song took a little time to take hold with the public, but within a couple of years made its way to the top of the charts, fueled in part by the way it resonated with WWII soldiers overseas and their families back home. More than a decade later, the song’s popularity had apparently not waned; the song became the centerpiece of the 1954 film White Christmas (starring Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen), which was that year’s highest grossing film, and which in itself has since become a holiday staple.
I’ve shared two versions of the song: the original 1942 recording, followed by the version appearing on the movie by the same name. Enjoy both!