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Soundtrack Sunday: A Charlie Brown Christmas

[alert type=”muted” close=”false” heading=””] [icon type=”headphones”] Soundtrack Sunday highlights particular film soundtracks for your listening pleasure. [icon type=”headphones”][/alert]

Today’s Soundtrack: A Charlie Brown Christmas by Vince Guaraldi Trio

Whenever I think about “Christmas music,” I immediately think of Vince Guaraldi’s soundtrack for A Charlie Brown Christmas. There’s no better type of Christmas music than classy, classic jazz Christmas music (and no, I don’t mean that Kenny G shit, so don’t even think about it).

A Charlie Brown Christmas has such great jazz that sometimes I find myself listening to it even when it’s nowhere near Christmas time. And at this point, whenever someone thinks of Charlie Brown or Peanuts, they think of the piece “Linus and Lucy”, which was popularized by this album. And gosh darn it, A Charlie Brown Christmas is just a sweet little Christmas special. When Linus gets up on that stage and talks about the birth of Christ, then says, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown!”, even a total heathen atheist like myself gets a little touched. It’s short (barely a half hour) and concise, and I’ll be damned if this scene doesn’t make me burst into laughter every single time I see it:

Here’s some info about the soundtrack from the most reliable source in the world, Wikipedia:

By the early 1960s, Charles M. Schulz’s comic strip Peanuts had become a sensation worldwide. Television producer Lee Mendelson acknowledged the strip’s cultural impression and produced a documentary on the subject, titled A Boy Named Charlie Brown. Mendelson, a fan of jazz, heard a song by Vince Guaraldi on the radio not long after completion of his documentary, and contacted the musician to produce music for the special. Guaraldi composed the music for the project, creating an entire piece, “Linus and Lucy,” to serve as the theme. Despite the popularity of the strip and acclaim from advertisers, networks were not interested in the special. By April 1965, Time featured the Peanuts gang on its magazine cover, and plans for an animated half-hour Peanuts Christmas special were commissioned by The Coca-Cola Company. When Coca-Cola commissioned A Charlie Brown Christmas in spring 1965, Guaraldi returned to write the music.

The soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas has been considered “one of the most beloved holiday albums recorded.” Chris Barton of the Los Angeles Times asserts that the soundtrack introduced jazz to entirely new generation, having been heard by more individuals than the work of the genre’s most influential players, including Miles Davis and John Coltrane. The score influenced dozens of young aspiring musicians, among them David Benoit and George Winston. Haney wrote that the record “introduce[d] contemporary jazz to youngsters with grace, charm, and creativity.” A Charlie Brown Christmas was voted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2007. In 2012 the album was added to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry list of “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important” American sound recordings.

So why not kick back and listen to this album, then stand around in a snowy field with all your friends singing to the sky with your heads thrown all the way back?

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Chris Evangelista is the Executive Editor of Cut Print Film & co-host of the Cut Print Film Podcast. He also contributes to /Film, The Film Stage, Birth.Movies.Death, The Playlist, Paste Magazine, Little White Lies and O-Scope Musings. 'The House on Creep Street' and 'Beware the Monstrous Manther!', two horror books for young readers Chris co-authored with J. Tonzelli, are available wherever books are sold. You can follow him on Twitter @cevangelista413 and view his portfolio at chrisevangelista.net

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