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Christmas Music Playlists with Peggy Lee Songs
Just Like Miss Piggy Singing Santa Baby
Peggy Lee was an all-round talent that saw her become a successful jazz singer and actress as well as a composer of note (she wrote most of the soundtrack for the animated Disney movie 'The Lady and the Tramp'). Over a singing career that spanned more than half a century the theme of Christmas and the music it spawns was never far away from her recordings. The first of these came in 1941 when Lee fronted the Benny Goodman band. 'Winter Weather' was intended to stir feelings of the season but it failed to do so from a chart perspective. Listening now it seems such a shame because 'Winter Weather' is a big band delight with artfully dispatched brass and Lee doling out a lesson in yule cool along with Art Lund on male vocals.
Another festive single 'It's Christmas Time Again' was released in 1953 with a second Christmas number on the flipside called ‘Ring Those Christmas Bells’. The a-side was all demure and delicate but Lee’s vocals soared like a comforting beacon in a dark sky. A year later in 1954 Peggy joined up with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye for an album that celebrated the music from the movie 'White Christmas'. Whereas Crosby and Kaye had both starred in the movie Lee had not but that hardly detracted from the allure of 'Selections from Irving Berlin's White Christmas'. Lee was drafted in primarily to fill the role played by Rosemary Clooney who was subject to a clause in her contract that stopped her from recording with Bing. Lee sang on several songs with her festive contributions including parts on 'Snow' and the grand finale of 'White Christmas'. Lee’s next festive move was another single, this time from 1959, called 'The Tree' which featured a chorus of children which gave this bouncy ditty the feel of something from a musical. Family fun was certainly the aim and although ‘The Tree’ has largely been forgotten it is a delight of rambunctious energy.
'I Like a Sleighride (Jingle Bells)' was the classy opener on Peggy’s debut 1960 Christmas album called 'Christmas Carousal'. With the help from a children’s backing group this was old favourite ‘Jingle Bells’ slowed down a tad but not losing any of its incandescent personality. And 'Christmas Carousal' continued in that vein throughout, boasting a childlike wonder on all of Peggy’s originals including ‘Don’t Forget To Feed The Reindeer’, 'Christmas Carousal' and ‘The Christmas Riddle’. Elsewhere Lee gave some of the season’s favourite standards a quality makeover to give her first festive LP the feel of a genuine classic.
In 1965, 5 years after her 'Christmas Carousel' release, Peggy put out another Christmas album called 'Happy Holiday'. This release included several tracks from her original Christmas release but there were also 5 new additions including a late night take on ‘Winter Wonderland’. This could be construed as taking the loveable old chestnut back from the children and giving it an adult demeanour. In the process ‘Winter Wonderland’ became the stuff of dimly lit bar rooms populated by a diverse set of schmoozers.
In the run up to Christmas 1966 Peggy made an appearance on the Danny Kaye Show wherein she performed a duet with Kaye on a medley that married 'Jingle Bells' with 'Jingle Journey' (she also sang her new single 'So What's New?'). This performance is included on a DVD of festive Kaye moments called 'Christmas with Danny Kaye'. A new old song 'My Dear Acquaintance (A Happy New Year)', which was previously unreleased, ended up on a compilation album called 'Christmas With Peggy Lee' which came out in 2006. This delight showcases an older Lee in reflective mood and perfect encapsulating the feeling of taking stock at the end of another year. ‘Christmas With Peggy Lee' is a brilliant collection as it gathered the best bits from Peggy's Christmas albums and all her Christmas singles. Not only that but it has a 12-page booklet with lots of rare photos of Peggy over the holidays, including some of her Christmas recipes and menus.Author: Kevin