Thank You Vince Guaraldi

Like a lot of people, the Charlie Brown Christmas special serves as an annual rite of passage in my holiday celebrations (an emerging tradition is the James Bond marathon, but since that one drives Holly crazy I won't go into that.)

When I was younger, it was very much about the cartoon and the story itself. Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang were arguably at the pinnacle of their popularity in the late 70s and early 80s. But as I get older, the draw that keeps me coming back each year (beyond just the story) is the music itself. Guaraldi's jazz twist on traditional Christmas standards as well as his original songs are so well done that they now stand completely on their own as classics.

I recently came across this Seattle Times article talking about the background of the soundtrack and how it almost caused the Christmas special to be canned, yet is now one of the main things that has made the show a holiday institution.

But the Internet being the Internet, I also came across this NPR Audio clip (wma) covering pretty much the same story. So you can take your pick, read or listen. Either way, a good story.

And for the record, my personal favorite is his version of O'Tannenbaum. I'd love to say it was one of the original tunes, but when you can take a Christmas standard and make your version a standard in its own right, that's pretty impressive.

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