I wasn’t going to write a Christmas column. After so many years, and so many column inches, I wasn’t sure I could add anything new to a time of year that, when it isn’t steeped in tradition, is too often steeped in cliché, and no small amount of holiday schmaltz.
But because this is my last column of 2022, and because we’re coming out of a year so fraught with drama, violence and division, I figured that if I could spread a little holiday cheer as you and yours get ready to go over the river and through the woods over these next few days, then another 750 words or so on the magic of the holiday season was probably worth it.
And in this instance, as is so often the case, it all comes down to the music. Or, more specifically, David Bowie’s 1977 duet with Bing Crosby on “Peace on Earth/The Little Drummer Boy.”
If you’ve never seen it, the duet, recorded for Crosby’s “Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas,” television special, is peak 1970s cheese. The storyline has Crosby crashing at a long-lost relative’s house in England, when in strolls a neighbor … who just happens to be Bowie.
On paper, the pairing of the Thin White Duke with a 1940s crooner well into his twilight shouldn’t have worked. Legend has it that Bowie hated “The Little Drummer Boy.”
But after huddling with songwriter Ian Fraser, who co-wrote the ‘Peace on Earth‘ portion, and Buz Kohan and Larry Grossman, who also worked on the special, Bowie and Bing nailed the final arrangement, according to a CBC history of the song.
And what emerged was just magic. Read more