Monday, December 4, 2023


The Voice of Christmas: The Complete Decca Christmas Songbook is a two-disc collection of Christmas music recorded by Bing Crosby for the Decca label between 1935 and 1956, released by Universal Music Group on October 6, 1998. Crosby was the first popular singer to record Christmas songs, and his 1942 recording of "White Christmas" for the movie Holiday Inn is the best-selling single of all time. The most prolific period for his Christmas recordings was between 1942 and 1955, including his Christmas songs recorded with The Andrews Sisters. Crosby continued to record Christmas titles for other labels later in his career.

Most of the tracks included were originally issued on 78 RPM records. This collection contains all of Crosby's Decca label Christmas recordings, including some duplications of titles recorded at different times. The 1947 recording of "White Christmas" is the most played and considered the "standard" version; this re-recording was made due to the acetate of the 1942 version, and its flip side "Silent Night," becoming too degraded in quality to reproduce further copies.

Tracks are presented in loose chronological order, with collaborations appearing in chronological order on disc two from tracks nine through twenty. Two tracks are previously unreleased songs: an alternate version of his original May 29, 1942, recording of "White Christmas"; and a February 21, 1935, recording of "Silent Night." The 1935 version of "Silent Night" was not released due to Crosby's feelings that a popular entertainer should not profit on such a religion-based song however, once the proceeds were arranged to be donated to charity, a second recording of the song was released as a single in 1935 and was later packaged as part of a 1940 album...

Saturday, November 25, 2023


 Jimmy Cagney and Bing Crosby never got to work together on film, but they knew each other and got to work together briefly during the war selling war bonds. Here is a story Jimmy had about that time...

"At our opening show in Soldier Field, Chicago, there was a crowd of 130,000 .... Bing walked out to a reception for which the adjective "triumphant" is inadequate. He stood there in that very humble, charming way of his .... After the audience explosion died down, Bing said, "Whadda yez wanna hear?" and they exploded again until the stadium walls nearly buckled. After they subsided, he said, "Ya wanna leave it to me?" and they blew up again. Finally, he said, "Hit me, Al," and our orchestra conductor, Al Newman, started his boys off on "Blues in the Night." They had played only the first two bars when the audience went into rapturous applause once more. Bing finished the song, and never in my life have I heard anything like it. I got the traditional goose pimples just standing there, listening. He did another, same thing .... When Bing came offstage, the perspiration on him was an absolute revelation to me. Here he had been to all appearances perfectly loose and relaxed, but not at all. He was giving everything he had in every note he sang, and the apparent effortlessness was a part of his very hard work."

with Carole Lombard

Wednesday, November 22, 2023


 I lost a dear friend this week with the passing of Nick Nardella of Chicago. He was a lifelong member of The International Club Crosby, and Bing Crosby was one of his favorite singers. I personally met him in 1999, and we started a taping correspondence. He was there in my life for all of the important points of my life like my marriage and birth of my children. I have known Nick longer than I have known my wife. He always had encouraging words for me, and he was a geniune and good person. His music collection was as big as his heart.

Nick passed away peacefully on November 19, 2023. Nick is survived by his loving wife of 44 years, Laverne M. Nardella nee Peterson; caring brother of John Nardella and Geraldine Kruger; cherished brother-in-law to the late Jim (Kathy) Peterson, Marilyn (James Sr.) Nemecek, the late Eileen Tomazin; fond uncle to Michael and Richard (Kim) Kruger, James Jr. (Michelle) Nemecek, Tracy (Joseph) Buchholz, Eric Peterson, Julie (David) Westerman, TJ Tomazin; caring great-uncle to Brooke (Cody) Mudd, Seth and Emily Kruger, Justin, Jacob, Jared, and Makayla Buchholz, Charlie and Danny Westerman; devoted great-great-uncle to Amberleigh Mudd. He is preceded in death by his parents Henry and Antoinette Nardella.

Nick proudly served in the Army as an Administrator, stationed in Germany during the Vietnam War era. Upon returning from his time in the service he fondly worked at World Book, and several years later went on to meet the love of his life, Laverne. Music and sports were Nick’s second love, being a devout fan of artists from the 1940’s and all sports teams from Chicago. He also was a member of "The Browsers", a Chicago based record collector group that shared their knowledge on local radio. 

I am a better person because I had the honor of knowing Nick Nardella....

Sunday, November 12, 2023


Bing recorded some great standards during this early days at Decca. He recorded these songs on November 12, 1935 in Hollywood. Hard to believe these recordings are 88 years old...

Bing Crosby (voc), Victor Young and his Orchestra (orc)

a. DLA253-A Red Sails In The Sunset(Jimmy Kennedy, Hugh Williams) - 3:10
b. DLA253-B Red Sails In The Sunset(Jimmy Kennedy, Hugh Williams) - 3:10

c. DLA254-A Take Me Back To My Boots And Saddle(Walter G Samuels, Teddy Powell, Leonard 
d. DLA254-B Take Me Back To My Boots And Saddle(Walter G Samuels, Teddy Powell, Leonard Whitcup) - 2:41
e. DLA255-A On Treasure Island(Edgar Leslie, Joe Burke) - 2:59
f. DLA255-B On Treasure Island(Edgar Leslie, Joe Burke) - 2:57
g. DLA255-C On Treasure Island(Edgar Leslie, Joe Burke) - 2:58
h. DLA256-A Adeste Fideles(Canon Frederick Oakley, John Francis Wade) - 3:18
i. DLA256-B Adeste Fideles(Canon Frederick Oakley, John Francis Wade) - 3:16

Monday, October 30, 2023


Coming soon on CD and LP!

Introducing "Bing Crosby's Christmas Gems," a remarkable album release curated by the estate, bringing together rare and never-before-released Christmas masters from The Bing Crosby archives. This limited edition release presents 14 holiday classics, including 12 previously unreleased recordings. With it's diverse repertoire, rare tracks, and iconic collaborations, this album serves as the perfect seasonal gift for music enthusiasts, spreading joy and celebrating the spirit of Christmas...

1. Let It Snow!
2. Just What I Wanted For Christmas
3. O LIttle Town Of Bethlehem
4. How Lovely Is Christmas
5. Away In A Manger
6. Good King Wenceslas
7. The Night Before Christmas
8. Christmas Island (w. Kathryn Crosby)
9. Joy To The World
10. The Secret Of Christmas
11. White World Of Winter
12. A Marshmellow World (w. Ella Fitzgerald)
13. Christmas Star
14. Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy (w. David Bowie)

More info here...

Friday, October 20, 2023


Bing Crosby was, along with Louis Armstrong, one of the fathers of jazz-influenced singing. He was a crooner like Rudy Vallee and Russ Columbo but with the rhythmic panache of a jazzman. In the 1930s, "The Old Groaner," as Bing was affectionately known, was the biggest singing star in America. Like the rest of the country, a young Frank Sinatra was charmed by Crosby's many radio appearances and his ultra-relaxed way with a song. When he was nineteen, he finally saw Bing in person—and the brouhaha that accompanied being a pop music star—and Sinatra knew he was going to be a singer.

In his early years, he made particular efforts not to sound like Bing. "Every kid on the block was boo-boo-booing like Crosby," he said, with the result being that there were as many differences between the two singers as there were similarities. Although Sinatra soon achieved Crosby's warmth of tone—especially on his Columbia recordings of the 1940s -- he rarely matched Bing's relaxed style.

This is clear when you compare his 1941 recording of "You Lucky People, You" to Crosby's performance of the song from the soundtrack to the film Road To Zanzibar. Where Sinatra makes relatively heavy weather of Jimmy Van Heusen's elaborate little melody—pulling away from the beat to make sense of the phrasing—Crosby breezes through the line with insouciant swing, and it makes perfect sense.

Sinatra would learn later to relax on rhythmic lines, but even then his swing remained edgier than Crosby's. "I believed, because of his leisurely manner of working, that if he could do it, I could do it," Sinatra said in the mid-1950s. "The funny thing is that I've never been able to do it. It's just a trick he has, a wonderful relaxed feeling about performing."

Nelson Riddle had a slightly different take on the differences between the rhythms of the two men, "Sinatra digs into a song and tries to get into it," he noted. "Crosby has a calculated nonchalance. He tosses off a tune". This made for terrific rhythmic bounce and cheerful irony, but when contrasted with the vulnerability and poignancy that the volatile Sinatra could achieve with a song, there could be a certain emotional distance in Crosby's work, as there apparently was in his life. Crosby was the original cool singer; Sinatra was the opposite of cool, as a man and as an artist. And Crosby recognized the difference himself: "He creates a mood, which very few people are able to do," Bing once said of Frank. "I don't think I create a mood when I sing."

The two men had different voices, too, and different approaches to them. Crosby rarely ventured from his smooth baritone range to indulge in bravura finishes or extremity of tone. Sinatra not only learnt to make more than Crosby of the expressive "grain" in his voice but would also, at various times in his career, venture to extremes, bringing startling drama to the music, as he did with the high F of "All Or Nothing At All" in 1939 and the low E of "Ol' Man River" in 1963. "Sinatra's voice is more 'live' and vibrant and fraught with shadows and coloring than Crosby's voice," Riddle observed.

Sinatra was always quick to pay tribute to Crosby, saying in the 1940s, "Bing was my first singing idol, and still is." The Old Groaner, meanwhile, acknowledged the rise of the Voice with the oft-quoted quip, "Frank Sinatra is the kind of singer who comes along once in a lifetime. But why did it have to be my lifetime???" He even sent an open letter of advice to the young crooner that was published in Motion Picture: Hollywood Magazine in December 1943. "Keep riding that skyrocket you're on, Frankie! I'm all for you," it said. "Yes, when I heard the whispers about you and me being bitter rivals, I just smiled."

Though entirely different temperamentally and for much of their careers politically, the two singers remained friendly throughout their lives, with Sinatra even singing the old man to his Reprise label in 1962, casting him in the Reprise Musical Repertory Theatre projects and the movie Robin And The 7 Hoods. Their professional encounters, mostly on radio and then TV, were never less than amiable, and their "Well, Did You Evah" duet in the movie High Society was a magical glimpse of the singers' respective performance styles!

Friday, October 6, 2023


Holiday in Europe was a long-playing vinyl album recorded for Bing Crosby's own company, Project Records at Radio Recorders in Hollywood and issued by Decca Records (DL-4281) in 1962. The album consists of twelve European songs. The orchestral arrangements were by Bob Thompson and the orchestra was conducted by Malcolm Lockyer at Decca's West Hampstead, London studios in October 1960. Crosby had recorded four of the songs with Lockyer on October 15, 1960, in London but a decision was taken not to use these vocal tracks. Crosby subsequently over-dubbed his vocals on all of the orchestral tracks in May 1961. Malcolm Lockyer does not receive a credit on the album cover.

The album was issued on CD by MCA Victor, Inc., Japan (MVCM-294) in 1993. The album was also reissued as "Holiday In Europe (And Beyond!)" released in February 2019 by Sepia Records. The album included the original songs and along with other 14 songs.

Variety magazine reviewed the album saying “In an indie master deal with Project Records, Bing Crosby comes under the Decca banner once again. The package peg is a global song roundup which has Crosby working his way through such entries as “Under Paris Skies,” “Morgen,” “Never on Sunday” and “Domenica”. It's flavorsome and pleasing.”

Side one
1. "April in Portugal" 
2. "C'est si bon" 
3. "Never on Sunday" 
4. "More and More Amor" 
5. "Moment in Madrid" 
6. "Morgen" 

Side two
1. "Two Shadows on the Sand"
2. "Under Paris Skies" 
3. "Domenica" 
4. "Pigalle" 
5. "My Heart Still Hears the Music 
6. "Melancolie"

Monday, September 25, 2023


This time around I wanted to take a look now at a more obscure film. I think 1934’s Here Is My Heart fits the bill. I have a confession to make though. I have never watched the 1934 film. This makes for an exciting viewing experience seeing a “new” Bing film after all these years, but then again to do this article I needed to take very copious notes. Here is My Heart is based on the play La Grande-duchesse et le garcon d’etage by Alfred Savior. Translated the title is The Grand Duchess and The Steward. This 1934 Paramount film starred Bing, Kitty Carlisle, and Roland Young. Filmed in Hollywood at the end of August, it was completed in early November. The New York premiere was on December 21, 1934 and afterwards, Bing entertained at a Christmas basket party hosted by Joe E. Brown at the Beverly-Wilshire Hotel. Dick Powell and Al Jolson also perform before the audience of 800. The event was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Beverly Hills and was designed to provide Yule cheer for the needy of Beverly Hills.

The slight plot is about a happy go lucky millionaire (played by Bing), who has planned a sort of a bucket list once he made a million dollars. A million dollars in 1934 was a like a billion today. One of his silly things he wanted to accomplish was to catch a fish in the middle of the ocean. Other bucket list items included saving a damsel in distress, and also finding a second rare dueling pistol so he could donate them both to a naval academy. (Bing had already obtained one of the dueling pistols). The other pistol was in Monte Carlo, and owned by a Princess Alexandra (played by Kitty Carlisle). The Princess though had lost all her money, but Bing did not know that. To get closer to her, he pretended to be waiter. Bing was instantly attracted to the Princess. Bing also befriended a prince in Princess Alexandra’s entourage by the name of Prince Nicholas (played by Roland Young). Prince Nicholas told Bing that the Princess will only sell the gun to royalty. In order to keep up his charade and find out more info on the Princess, Bing bought the hotel. He saw all of the bills owed to the hotel and realized that the Princess and her entourage are completely broke. Bing had fallen in love with the Princess, and he snuck money into Prince Nicholas’s pocket to help them out. Nicholas, found the money, and he realized Bing is rich. The Prince offers to help Bing win over the Princess. Meanwhile, Prince Nicholas was arrested by the police for illegally selling cars. To obtain his release, the Princess agreed to sell the pistol, but it was discovered that her pistol was a fake and only worth a few hundred dollars. In the end Bing sells his pistol to obtain Prince Nicholas’ release. Princess Alexandra was initially upset at all the lies Bing had fabricated, but Bing convinced her they he is sincere and loves her. They kiss as they declare their love for each other. Bing’s bucket list was no complete!

Here Is My Heart was originally developed as a vehicle for Gary Cooper and Elissa Landi, but Cooper changed his mind after deciding that a love story about a duchess and a waiter wasn't for him and turned down the role. Bing worked well in the film even with the flimsy plot. This was his second movie with Kitty Carlisle. He starred with her earlier in the year in She Loves Me Lot. Bing and Kitty worked well together, and in later years Kitty also talked fondly about her times working with Bing. Roland Young stole the movie away in my opinion as a kind of a comic foil for Bing. This was the only movie that Roland made with Bing, and Young would have greater fame playing Cosmo Topper in 1937’s comedy Topper. William Frawley also appeared in the movie in a smaller role as Bing’s agent. William Frawley would go on to appear with Bing in numerous additional films like: Double Or Nothing (1937) and Going My Way (1944). Frawley and Crosby got along well because they shared a love of horse racing.

The critics liked the film, with The New York Times saying, "...the new Bing Crosby film at the Paramount is a witty, lyrical and debonair farce, and a first-rate addition to the holiday bounties... Mr. Crosby, who has already shown that his talents include a gift for light comedy, emerges this time as a celebrated songbird who, having made his way in the world, decides to take his million dollars and satisfy all the frustrated ambitions which he had brooded over as a boy. “Here Is My Heart” is a bright and funny entertainment, deftly produced and happily performed."

Variety praised it as well: "A setup for the Crosby fans and an excellent example of musical comedy picture making.”Here Is My Heart" should have an easy time of it most anywhere. Crosby is in fine voice, the songs he was handed are honies, and the story serves nicely as something to hang the singing and the songs on... To change the pace the director has him singing while doing anything but hanging from a chandelier. One well planned departure has Crosby in a duet with his own voice playing on a phonograph."

Only three songs were featured in the film, which is a shame. Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin wrote “June In January” and “With Every Breath I Take” for the film. However for the third song, “Love Is Just Around The Corner” Leo Robin wrote the song with Lewis Gensler. I am not sure why Lewis Gensler was used for one song and not Ralph Rainger. Bing recorded all three songs for Decca, and all three were hits for him especially “June In January”.

 An interesting side note to the score of the movie, is I recently discovered a record of a song called “Here Is My Heart” on the Brunswick label featuring the Dorsey Brothers with Bob Crosby on vocal, recorded on November 17, 1934. The song was written by Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin, and the record states “dedicated to the film Here Is My Heart”. It is a cute song, and it would have been nice to have more than three songs in the film. It looks like Eddy Duchin & His Orchestra also recorded it on the Victor label on November 2, 1934. I much prefer the Dorsey Brothers version of this forgotten song. (By the way, Bing made a record of another song called “Here Is My Heart” for Brunswick in 1933 with the Dorsey Brothers, but it was a different song completely).

The cast worked well in the film, and the music was top notch. The plot is probably the weakest part of this movie, but in 1934 movie audiences were not going to the movies to see Bing Crosby in a production of “War & Peace”. People wanted to escape from the stress of the Great Depression, and that is what Bing’s early Paramount movies provided. Here Is My Heart was practically a “lost” Bing film until it was finally issued on DVD as part of Universal Home Videos Silver Screen Collection in 2014. The movie is also available on Blu Ray now. Even though I think Here Is My Heart is not one of Bing’s better movies of the 1930s, I am glad I finally sat down and watched the film from beginning to end. Bing is charming in the film, and the music is amazing!


Friday, September 8, 2023


 Coming soon by Phil Crosby Jr (grandson of Bing)...