Classic Christmas: The Andy Williams Christmas Album
There are two reasons we think of Andy Williams fondly. First, there is the classic episode of The Simpsons when Bart, Milhouse, Nelson and Martin travel to Branson where they see Williams perform. A teary-eyed Nelson said, "I didn't think he'd do "Moon River," but then -- bam! -- second encore!"
The second reason is The Andy Williams Christmas Album, which was as common in adult Christmas record collections in the '70s as avocado green and mushrooms were on decor in the kitchen. And while much of his more popular material may not have survived the changes in pop music, this album of classic Christmas tunes most certainly has.
Released in 1963, it was the first of ten Christmas-themed records for Williams, who was best known for his rather bland takes on vocal standards like the aforementioned "Moon River." This was clearly the best and most beloved of Williams' releases and the one for which he is best remembered.
Certainly the most recognized song from Christmas Album was "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," which was an original tune by Edward Pola and George Wylde. This was the first recording of the song and still the most well known. Despite the fact that it was the one true original song, the label opted not to release it as a single, instead putting out "White Christmas." The song is now widely considered one of the best Christmas songs of all time.
For years, we couldn't figure out why the song had the lyric, "They'll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long long ago." It wasn't until a friend suggested the "scary ghost stories" might refer to Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol that we figured out what that line meant. Still, was that really scary?
Anyway, for those who weren't born before 1980, this record will sound really cheesy, almost like an ironic parody, but, despite the British Invasion and Woodstock and Motown, the '60s were dominated by vocal standard and Williams was very successful. Like the bubble machine goofiness of Lawrence Welk or the pre Elton John rhinestone insanity of Liberace, the music of vocal crooners like Williams doesn't translate well, but the Christmas music, which feels timeless, most certainly does.
Check out previous classic Christmas album recaps:
Phil Spector - A Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records
Frank Sinatra - A Jolly Christmas fro Frank Sinatra
The Carpenters - Christmas Portrait
Vince Guaraldi Trio - A Charlie Brown Christmas
George Winston - December
Various Artists - A Very Special Christmas
Mel Torme - Christmas Songs