by Jeff Messer
May 29th marked the 70th anniversary of Bing Crosby’s recording of “White Christmas,” a song about someone living in Los Angeles and dreaming of the snowy Christmases of their past. When I read that, I thought it strange it was recorded in May, but, then, I guess they needed time to market it by Christmas of that year. It hit the charts on Oct. 3 and became the biggest selling single in history and held that spot longer than any single in history, a record unbroken for more than 50 years. I know all of this not because I am the world’s biggest geek, although I probably am, but because I looked it up on the Internet — a skill I learned last week while keeping my grandsons.
According to what I read on the Internet, Irvin Berlin’s “White Christmas,” sung by Bing Crosby, served to boost the morale of not only our nation, but the American troops that were six months into a declaration of war on the world. In 1942, we had just come through the Dust Bowl, were still in a depression and now a world war. We needed something to hope for and “dreaming of a white Christmas” was just the thing. Thinking about “tree tops that glisten” and “children that listen for sleigh bells in the snow” seemed to give our nation a new hope that the dust would settle, the economy would strengthen and our young men and women would come home.
What kind of song would inspire us today? With “White Christmas” as a guide I think it would, first of all, need to be fairly simple. Not that we are a simple people, but our inspiration to greatness often times comes from the simplicity of life. It would need to inspire us to dream of things that might seem to be impossible. Glistening trees and listening for sleigh bells in the middle of Los Angeles was a stretch for the imagination, but, then, that is what dreams are made of.
It also would need to inspire us toward the future while remembering the past. “Just like the ones I use to know…” can be comforting but it should never make us comfortable. Yesterday’s snow has melted away; “Frosty” is not here to stay. The dream is of a new snow that is fresh, clean and bright. It might be “like the ones I use to know…” but it won’t be the same nor should it be.
And what about a White Christmas anyway? A person in LA who is from New York might dream of a White Christmas, but what about someone in New York that is from LA? He might sing, “I am dreaming of a sun shiny Christmas just like the ones I use to know, with the beaches a clutter, and highways a flutter with horns honking all the time.”
I don’t know, but I do know that songs are about being inspired, and boy, do we need to be inspired today. Hey, what about a Groundhog Day song?
As always I am just thinking...