Saturday, January 2, 2021

Winter Wonderland Doris Day—Murfin’s Carols for Corona and Winter Holiday Music Festival

                                            Winter Wonderland sung by Doris Day.

Post New Year’s Day is a good time to share one of those holiday playlist songs that really have nothing to do with Christmas or any other seasonal fest.  Among the most common of these are the winter or snow songs—think Frosty the Snowman for kids, the seduction or date rape song (take your pick) Baby its Cold Outside, Snow from the movie White Christmas, My Favorite Things from the Sound of Music, and of course Jingle Bells.  But the most popular of the more modern of those songs is Winter Wonderland.

Winter Wonderland was written by composer Felix Bernard and the consumptive lyricist Richard B. Smith.

The song was written in 1934 by Felix Bernard and lyricist Richard B. Smith. Since its original RCA recording by Richard Himber and his Hotel Ritz-Carlton Orchestra, it has been covered by over 200 different artists, including Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, Amy Grant, Michael Buble, The Eurythmics, and Radiohead.

Smith’s lyrics were reportedly inspired by memories of his hometown Honesdale, Pennsylvania park freshly buried in snow but were written while he was being treated for tuberculosis in the West Mountain Sanitarium in Scranton.

Children played in Central Park in Honesdale, Pa., across the street from Richard Smith’s childhood home, which inspired him to write Winter Wonderland.

Among the most notable covers were by Johnny Mercer which reached #4 on the Billboard radio play chart in 1946 and by Perry Como the same year which was in the top ten songs in retail sales.

                        The song was featured in Billie Burke's unsuccessful attempt to revive her late husband Flo Ziegeld's Follies. 

Sinatra’s version is notable for changing the lyrics.  Despite the earlier success of the song, Sinatra was warned that powerful protestant clergy were prepared to demand that radio stations ban the song because of the line “In the meadow we will build a snowman/We’ll pretend that he is Parson Brown/He’ll say ‘are you married?’ We’ll say no man/But you can do the job when you’re in town.”  The preachers were alarmed that the words implied hanky-panky by the unmarried coupleOld Blue Eyes changed the word to the nonsensical “In the meadow we can build a snowman /And pretend that he’s a circus clown/We’ll have lots of fun with Mr. Snowman/Until the other kiddies knock him down.”

Some other later covers of the song used Sinatra’s version while other stood by the original words.  Some even used both versions.

Doris Day in the early 1950s.

Today we will share a version by former big band singer turned movie star Doris Day.  The video clips accompanying her singing are from two popular nostalgia fests she made opposite Gordon McCrea, On Moonlight Bay  in 1951 and By The Light Of The Silvery Moon  in 1953. 

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