White Christmas is a 1942 Irving Berlin song reminiscing about an old-fashioned Christmas setting. According to the Guinness World Records, the version sung by Bing Crosby is the single of all time. Other versions of the song, along with Crosbys, have sold over 150 million copies, accounts vary as to when and where Berlin wrote the song. He often stayed up all night writing—he told his secretary, Grab your pen, I just wrote the best song Ive ever written—heck, I just wrote the best song that anybodys ever written. At first, Crosby did not see anything special about the song and he just said I dont think we have any problems with that one, Irving. The song initially performed poorly and was overshadowed by Holiday Inns first hit song, Be Careful, by the end of October 1942, White Christmas topped the Your Hit Parade chart. It remained in position until well into the new year. A few weeks after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, Crosby introduced “White Christmas” on a Christmas Day broadcast, the Armed Forces Network was flooded with requests for the song. The recording is noted for Crosbys whistling during the second chorus, in 1942 alone, Crosbys recording spent eleven weeks on top of the Billboard charts. The original version hit number one on the Harlem Hit Parade for three weeks, Crosbys first-ever appearance on the black-oriented chart. Re-released by Decca, the returned to the No.1 spot during the holiday seasons of 1945 and 1946. The recording became a perennial, reappearing annually on the pop chart twenty separate times before Billboard magazine created a distinct Christmas chart for seasonal releases. In Holiday Inn, the won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1942. In the film, Crosby sings White Christmas as a duet with actress Marjorie Reynolds and this now-familiar scene was not the moviemakers initial plan. In the script as originally conceived, Reynolds, not Crosby, the song would feature in another Crosby film, the 1954 musical White Christmas, which became the highest-grossing film of 1954. The version most often heard today on radio during the Christmas season is the 1947 re-recording, the 1942 master was damaged due to frequent use. Crosby re-recorded the track on March 19,1947, accompanied again by the Trotter Orchestra, the re-recording is recognizable by the addition of flutes and celesta in the beginning. Although Crosby dismissed his role in the success, saying later that a jackdaw with a cleft palate could have sung it successfully
Image: Decca 18429A
1945 V-Disc release by the U.S. Army of "White Christmas" and "I'll Be Home for Christmas" by Bing Crosby as No. 441B.
Picture sleeve of 1959 reissue by Decca Records (9-23778)