Salutations, happy holidays, and Merry Christmas. In these extraordinary times, we thought you might enjoy some comfort food for the soul, a nostalgic bit of Disneyana that colors the air and instantly puts you in the holiday spirit. Let’s revisit a much-requested past column from 2010 about Disneyland’s Main Street Christmas music loop. It’s updated and ready for your holiday enjoyment… Do I hear sleigh bells? – Al
Main Street Christmas Music Loop
I get the same e-mails every year (and yes, almost always in all-caps), usually requesting/demanding/begging an immediate response:
AL! BUDDY! MY PAL! DO YOU KNOW WHAT ALBUMS THEY USED TO MAKE THE DISNEYLAND MAIN STREET CHRISTMAS MUSIC LOOP??? MY (insert name of relative here) WHO IS (insert rather unpleasant medical condition of said relative here) WANTS TO GET A COPY OF THIS BEFORE THEY (insert usually bleak future state of said relative here).
For the original run of this piece, I did some Googling on the above demand, plea, request to see what I could find. But it seems that many of the songs and albums were elusive.
This is how I would package it for sale at the park.
I finally located the last few hardest to find tracks, made a playlist, and was able to compare them as I was sitting in Disneyland’s hub during the loop’s playback. Everything checked out except for a few trimmed intros. Talk about reverse engineering!
|Disneyland’s Main Street Christmas Loop (1972)|
|1.||The Christmas Tree||David Rose||Capitol|
|2.||Twelve Days of Christmas||David Rose||Capitol|
|3.||The First Noel||A Music Box Christmas||Columbia|
|5.||Do You Hear What I Hear?||Ed Sullivan Presents Music of Christmas||Columbia|
|6.||I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas||Ed Sullivan Presents Music of Christmas||Columbia|
|7.||Zu Bethlehem Geboren||A Music Box Christmas||Columbia|
|8.||Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer||Ed Sullivan Presents Music of Christmas||Columbia|
|9.||The Christmas Song||David Rose||Capitol|
|10.||Silver Bells||Raymond Lefevre||Kapp/4 Corners of the World|
|11.||Jingle Bells||Raymond Lefevre||Kapp/4 Corners of the World|
|12||Hark! The Herald Angels Sing||A Music Box Christmas||Columbia|
|13.||Caroling, Caroling||Hollywood Pops Orchestra||Capitol|
|14.||Deck the Halls||Felix Slatkin||Liberty|
|15.||O Tannenbaum||A Music Box Christmas||Columbia|
|16.||Petit Papa Noel (Little Father Christmas)||Raymond Lefevre||Kapp/4 Corners of the World|
|17.||Jingle Bell Rock||Hollyridge Strings||Capitol|
|18.||Jingle Bells||A Music Box Christmas||Columbia|
|19.||Christmas Waltz||David Rose||Capitol|
|20.||The First Noel||Ed Sullivan Presents Music of Christmas||Columbia|
|21.||Carol of the Bells||Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra||Capitol|
|22.||Ihr Kinderlein Kommet||Felix Slatkin||Liberty|
|23.||Ihr Kinderlein Kommet||A Music Box Christmas||Columbia|
|24.||White Christmas||Lawrence Welk||Dot|
|25.||I’ll Be Home for Christmas||Lawrence Welk||Dot|
|26.||Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer||Lawrence Welk||Dot|
|27.||Still, Still, Holy Melody||A Music Box Christmas||Columbia|
|28.||Hark! The Herald Angels Sing||Lawrence Welk||Dot|
|29.||Deck the Halls||Lawrence Welk||Dot|
|30.||Lobe Den Herren||A Music Box Christmas||Columbia|
First, here’s the little that is available on CD and/or download: The Lawrence Welk version of “Rudolph” can be found on the “Christmas Memories” CD, his “Deck the Halls” and “Hark” tracks can be found on the “22 Merry Christmas Favorites” disc, both from Ranwood. All eight of the music box selections can be found on Rita Ford’s Columbia CD “A Music Box Christmas” and the lounge version of “Jingle Bell Rock” can be found complete on a Collector’s Choice CD. I’ve included links below to all them:
One previously very hard to locate track, “Caroling, Caroling” by the Hollywood Pops Orchestra, was finally available a few years ago as an 89-cent WMA download from Wal*Mart’s online music store, but the store may no longer be available. Here’s a similar cut currently on YouTube:
Now comes the hard part – finding all those other albums. (Younger folks may not remember we used to listen to music by dragging a needle over a spinning slab of vinyl.)
One LP in particular was very difficult to get any information on, “Ed Sullivan Presents Music of Christmas.” This is the cover of Columbia Records number CS 9543.
John Gregory arranged and conducted it, and it was produced by Teo Macero. Through the magic of Amazon, this album is now available as a CD, streaming, or MP3 after years of being nearly impossible to find!.
|1||White Christma||Ed Sullivan Presents Music of Christmas|
|3||Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer||Ed Sullivan Presents Music of Christmas|
|5.||Do You Hear What I Hear?||Ed Sullivan Presents Music of Christmas|
|10.||The First Noel||Ed Sullivan Presents Music of Christmas|
While Lawrence Welk’s “Rudolph,” “Deck the Halls” and “Hark” tracks made it to CD, the other two songs from the original Dot catalog number DLP 25397 “Silent Night and 13 Other Best Loved Christmas Songs” can only be found on LP. (The album was later repackaged with the same title on the Ranwood label. Below is the original cover.)
eBay does offer some listings for this. The Lawrence Welk Christmas Website has terrific pages on the available CDs and also has a very complete listing of all the different versions of the many Christmas songs that were recorded by Welk and his performers over the years and what albums they landed on.
|24.||White Christmas||Lawrence Welk|
|25.||I’ll Be Home for Christmas||Lawrence Welk|
|26.||Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer||Lawrence Welk|
|28.||Hark! The Herald Angels Sing||Lawrence Welk|
|29.||Deck the Halls||Lawrence Welk|
Here’s the listing for Raymond Lefevre from the SpaceAgePop.com website:
Raymond Lefevre gave Paul Mauriat a run for his money in the easy listening instrumentals biz, as the two kept pushing tunes into the Top 40 charts in the late 1960s. Mauriat grabbed the only #1 instrumental of the period with “Love is Blue,” but Lefevre beat him out in several Eurovision song contests and had several other big hits with “La La La (He Gives Me Love),” “Soul Coaxing,” “Puppet on a String,” and “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” Lefevre’s easy listening version of Gilbert Becaud’s “The Days the Rain Came” briefly hit the U.S. Top 40 list in 1958, but most of the time, Lefevre was focused on French audiences. He arranged and conducted nearly as many albums for the French label, Barclay, as Percy Faith did for Columbia/CBS in the U.S. Unlike Mauriat and Franck Pourcel, Lefevre stuck for the most part to standard easy listening orchestrations, and he was less likely to incorporate rock rhythms or rhythm sections.
His 1968 “Merry Christmas” album was originally released on Kapp/4 Corners of the World catalog number FCS 4257 (the rather frisky cover above), and then reissued a few years later on Budda Records BDS-5099 with two songs removed. Of course one of the two songs removed on the Budda album was “Petit Papa Noel” (French singer Tino Rossi had the original vocal hit) which makes getting the Budda disc moot. Fortunately, eBay’s listings for this album let you see which is which for the most part.
There is an almost identical arrangement of “Petit Papa Noel” by Paul Mauriat, which generates a lot of email each year from readers who feel that is the correct track. To my ears (after comparing them both with the actual loop) the Lefevre track still seems to me to be the one used.
|10.||Silver Bells||Raymond Lefevre|
|11.||Jingle Bells||Raymond Lefevre|
|16.||Petit Papa Noel (Little Father Christmas)||Raymond Lefevre|
From Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia we learn about David Rose:
David Rose was a British-born American songwriter, composer, arranger, and orchestra leader known as “one of the most popular and distinctive mainstream instrumental pop composers” of the 20th century. He was famed for compositions such as “The Stripper,” “Holiday for Strings,” and “Calypso Melody,” and he also wrote music for the television series “Little House on the Prairie” (of which he was musical director) and “Bonanza.”
I can confirm the album shown above (from Capitol Records) has the correct songs on it. eBay does have listings for it occasionally. Do note there’s also an earlier MGM LP listed sometimes, but it’s a different recording entirely. Like the Ed Sullivan LP if you look hard enough out there online (really, really, hard!) you can probably find this title.
|1.||The Christmas Tree||David Rose|
|2.||Twelve Days of Christmas||David Rose|
|9.||The Christmas Song||David Rose|
|19.||Christmas Waltz||David Rose|
From the Felix Slatkin webpage:
FELIX SLATKIN was an arranger, conductor and violinist. He was active in Hollywood during the 40’s, 50’s and early 60’s. During his career he won wide acclaim and respect for his innovative and inspired contributions to many recordings. In the 40’s, Slatkin was the concertmaster of the 20th Century Fox studio orchestra. He later conducted the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra and also formed the Concert Arts Orchestra, recording with both ensembles. He was Frank Sinatra’s concertmaster and conductor of choice during the Capitol years of the 50’s. Also during the 50’s, Slatkin produced and conducted two outstanding albums of military music on the Capitol label.
He later recorded several albums for Liberty leading the “Fantastic Strings” at the height of the “Stereo Action” period. Like many studio musicians, he was also virtuoso performer in his own right. He recorded as a classical violinist, and he and his wife, cellist Eleanor Aller — also a studio regular for whom John Williams wrote a prominent part in the score of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”– founded a legendary American classical group, the Hollywood String Quartet. Felix Slatkin and Eleanor Aller had two sons. Leonard Slatkin is Conductor Laureate of the St.Louis Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of the National Symphony Orchestra. Frederick Zlotkin (Fred uses the original Russian spelling of the family name) is Principal Cellist for the New York City Ballet and is the cellist for the Lyric Piano Quartet.
The graphics on the album cover show the song “I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day.” I have a copy of an abridged reissue of that album which references the original and has the same song listed on both the cover and the label. However, the actual song on the album is “O Come Little Children” or “Ihr Kinderlein Kommet”. I’m curious as to whether the original issue of the album has the correct song or the mistake. If it has the mistake, it would be fascinating to know the history of how it was made. If the original is correct, then we know that more than twelve songs were recorded and only a partial release issued, making the album with the error a neat collector’s item.
Incidentally, if you wanted to add the information to your site, the reissue that I have is from 1980, titled “Seasons Greetings, The Fantastic Strings of Felix Slatkin (not the “Holiday” Strings as on the Sunset reissue), contains ten cuts and carries the catalog number of LM-1070. (It eliminates “O Holy Night” and “Away in a Manger” which were listed on the original). The reissue is stereo even though it has the “LM” number which could be interpreted as “mono” for the “M”.
eBay usually has both albums listed.
|14.||Deck the Halls||Felix Slatkin|
|22.||Ihr Kinderlein Kommet||Felix Slatkin|
Finally, the last track “Carol of the Bells” by the Hollywood Bowl Symphony is on “The Music of Christmas” album. It’s available from ArkivMusic in a licensed CD-R release, or via an out-of-print CD on Amazon, link below.
|21.||Carol of the Bells||Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra|
One thing I learned from this project is that Google is only half the search – you gotta use eBay and Amazon for the rest of it.
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Let’s Hear From You
Do the holiday sounds of Main Street USA put you in the mood? Do you have a favorite track? Do you wish Disneyland would release the complete album to make all this searching unnecessary?