To enjoy Christmas song, you need not necessarily be a Christian. Blizzard of Christmas songs by a few renowned bards are must-hear for each of you.

Kalimpong in December is chilled and mesmerising! Snowfall in Ghoom, Sandakfu and Darjeeling makes the nights cold and lonely.

In Darjeeling, the mercury hovers between two and three degree Celsius, while Kalimpong is comparatively bit warmer, recording between four and six degree Celsius.

The streets turn lonely as night approaches, except a few tourists in the market spots like Rishi Road, Damber Chowk, R.C. Mintri Road, or Relly Road.

landscape of kanchenjunga Listening To My Favourite Christmas Songs: In Kalimpong!

In the night, when the Kanchenjunga sleeps in mystic darkness, one can see the lights across the city, on the other side of the ridge and festive illumination around iconic Catholic Church and MacFarlane Church. One can hear them too, the choir singing in the evening and beyond…keyed up practicing sessions for the grand occasion of Christmas.

Like my fond childhood memories, I bring out my old collection of Christmas songs during this time…which have transcended from nostalgic cassettes to CDs and now into the emaciated pen drives.

Every year, in the wintery days and the magical nights approaching Christmas, Ella Fitzgerald, Connie Francis, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Andy Williams ,Jimmy Newman, Mabel Scott, Freddy King and Dean Martin to Mariah Carey come out of  genie like sanDisk contrivance to accompany me on those ‘silent nights’!

To be frank, I’m neither a Christian, nor a spiritual type…but the Christmas songs are a world apart, a part of my growing up process, from a small town lad to a cosmopolitan entity, spanning all these years.

So, in idyllic Kalimpong, sitting beside the fireplace, like Nat King Cole, in his famous Christmas album, I roam into the mystic and benevolent world of the songs…that ever remind one to be happy and thankful to all the experiences…whatsoever!

nat king cole christmas carols Listening To My Favourite Christmas Songs: In Kalimpong!

Nat King Cole:”The Christmas Song”

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire

Jack Frost nipping at your nose

Yule-tide carols being sung by a choir

And folks dressed up like Eskimos


Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe

Help to make the season bright

Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow

Will find it hard to sleep tonight


They know that Santa’s on his way

He’s loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh

And every mother’s child is gonna spy

To see if reindeer really know how to fly


And so I’m offering this simple phrase

To kids from one to ninety-two

Although it’s been said many times, many ways

Merry Christmas to you!”

capitol christmas song Listening To My Favourite Christmas Songs: In Kalimpong!


This popular Christmas song sung by Nat King Cole appeared on the album ‘The Nat King Cole Story’ in 1961, on the album ‘The Christmas Song’ in 1963 and on the soundtrack ‘Jingle All The Way’ released in 1996.

The simple yet wonderful Christmas Song” (commonly titled “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” or, as it was originally subtitled, “Merry Christmas to You”) is one of the classic Christmas songs written in 1945 by Bob Wells and Mel Tormé.

According to Mel Tormé or Melvin Howard Tormé, the man who was a versatile musician, best known as a singer of jazz standards, a jazz composer and arranger, drummer and actor,  the song was written during a blistering hot summer. In an effort to “stay cool by thinking cool”, the most-performed (according to BMI) Christmas song was born.

Tormé recalled about his co writer, the famous songwriter, composer, and script writer Bob Wells: “I saw a spiral pad on his (Wells’) piano with four lines written in pencil”… They started, ‘Chestnuts roasting…, Jack Frost nipping…, Yuletide carols…, Folks dressed up like Eskimos.’ Bob didn’t think he was writing a song lyric. He said he thought if he could immerse himself in winter he could cool off. Forty minutes later that song was written. I wrote all the music and some of the lyrics.”

Nat King Cole first recorded the song early in 1946. Capitol Records made a second recording, in the same year. This version became a major hit on both the Pop and R&B charts.

Cole recorded the song again in the year 1953, using the same arrangement with a full Orchestra, arranged and conducted by Nelson Riddle, and again in the year 1961, in a stereophonic version with Orchestra conducted by Ralph Carmichael.

Nat King Cole’s 1961 version of this Christmas song is regarded as definitive, and in 2004 it was the voted as most-loved seasonal song popular with the women aged 30–49.

And the original 1946 version was inducted into the ‘Grammy Hall of Fame’ in 1974.

the magic of christmas Listening To My Favourite Christmas Songs: In Kalimpong!

‘The Magic of Christmas’ , the 1960 album by Nat King Cole, was arranged by Ralph Carmichael.

This was Cole’s only full album of Christmas songs, although he had recorded several Christmas singles earlier in his career. One of these songs, 1946’s the famous “The Christmas Song”, was re-recorded for the 1961 album The Nat King Cole Story, and in 1963 The Magic of Christmas was re-issued with that recording added to the track list in place of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”, and the album was given new cover art and re-titled ‘The Christmas Song’.

This is the best-selling Christmas album released in the 1960s, and was certified by the RIAA for 6 million copies in the US alone.

The 1963 version had reached #1 on Billboard’s Christmas Albums chart and remained there for two weeks.

This album has many of my favourites, including: “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”,”O Tannenbaum”,”O Little Town of Bethlehem”, “I Saw Three Ships”, “Joy to the World” and “Silent Night”.

The Andy Williams Christmas Album

“Andy” Williams is one of my most favourite US singers, who also belonged to that nostalgic 60s and 70s.

During the 1960s, Andrew Williams became one of the most popular vocalists in the USA and was signed to what was at that time the biggest recording contract in history. He was primarily an album artist, and at one time he had earned more gold albums than any solo performer except Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis and Elvis Presley. By 1973 he had earned as many as 18 Gold Album awards.

Among his hit Albums from this period were the immortal ‘Moon River’, ‘Days of Wine’ and ‘Roses ‘(number one for 16 weeks in mid-1963).

In the UK too, Williams was continually reaching high chart status until 1978. The albums Can’t Help Falling In Love (1970), Andy Williams Show (1970) Home Lovin Man (No. 1, 1971), Solitaire (1973), The Way We Were (1974) and Reflections (1978) all reached the Top 10.

His Christmas songs, which appeared regularly until 1974 and intermittently from 1982 into the 1990s, were among the most popular of the genre.

the andy williams christmas Listening To My Favourite Christmas Songs: In Kalimpong!

Andrew (Andy) Williams recorded eight Christmas Albums over the years and was popularly known as “Mr. Christmas”, due to his constant Christmas specials and specially for the unprecedented success of the mesmerising number:

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year

With the kids jingle belling

And everyone telling you be of good cheer

It’s the most wonderful time of the year


It’s the hap-happiest season of all

With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings

When friends come to call

It’s the hap-happiest season of all


There’ll be parties for hosting

Marshmallows for toasting

And caroling out in the snow

There’ll be scary ghost stories

And tales of the glories of the

Christmases long, long ago


It’s the most wonderful time of the year

There’ll be much mistltoeing

And hearts will be glowing

When love ones are near

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”


The fantastic holiday song was written by Edward Pola and George Wyle in 1963. It was recorded and released in the same year by Andy Williams as his first Christmas Album.

But the song was not released as a promo-single by Williams’ record label (Columbia Records) that year, as they chosen to promote his cover of “White Christmas” as the official promo single from the Album.

The song is a celebration and depiction of varied activities related with the Christmas season, the get-togethers of friends and families. Other activities include hosting of parties, visits from friends, spending time with loved ones, sledding for children, kissing under the mistletoe, roasting marshmallows, sharing stories about previous Christmases, and singing of Christmas carols.

In a 2005 interview, Andrew Williams told about his recording of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”: “George Wyle, who is a vocal director, who wrote all of the choir stuff and all of the duets and trios and things that I did with all the guests, he wrote a song just for the show – I think the second Christmas show we did – called “Most Wonderful Time of the Year”. So I did that, you know, every Christmas, and then other people started doing it. And then suddenly it’s become – not suddenly but over 30 years- it’s become a big standard. I think it’s one of the top 10 Christmas songs of all time now.”

In the ‘American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers’ (ASCAP) list, which compiles data regarding the radio airplay of holiday songs, out of twenty-five songs that were ranked that year,the song  got to No. 4 in the year 2010.

In the year 1999, Garth Brooks released a version of the song on his second holiday album, ‘Garth Brooks and the Magic of Christmas’.

In 2008, Harry Connick, Jr. released a version of the song on his third holiday album, ‘What a Night! A Christmas Album’. It peaked at No. 9 on Billboard’s Hot Contemporary Tracks that year.

In 2004, Williams himself re-recorded the song in a shorter, more upbeat version for Ben Affleck and Catherine O’Hara starrer movie ‘Surviving Christmas’.

Apart from the song, ‘The Christmas Album’ of Andy Williams also contains some popular numbers like, ‘White Christmas’, ‘O Holy Night’,’ Away in a Manger’, ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ and ‘Silent Night’.

Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”

“White Christmas” is the Irving Berlin song reminiscing about an old-fashioned Christmas setting.

Bing Crosby’s version of this song is the best-selling single of all time.

Well known Music critic Stephen Holden remarked about the unprecedented success of this song that ,”the song also evokes a primal nostalgia- a pure childlike longing for roots, home and childhood- that goes way beyond the greeting imagery.”

Writer of this song, Irving Berlin was the legendary American composer and lyricist widely considered as one of the greatest songwriters in American history. He wrote hundreds of songs, many becoming major hits, which made him “a legend” before he turned thirty. During his 60-year career he wrote an estimated 1,500 songs, including the scores for 19 Broadway shows and 18 Hollywood films, with his songs nominated eight times for Academy Awards. Many of his songs had became popular themes and anthems, including “Easter Parade”, “White Christmas”, “Happy Holiday”, “God Bless America” , “This Is the Army, Mr. Jones”, and “There’s No Business Like Show Business”.

white christmas bing crosby Listening To My Favourite Christmas Songs: In Kalimpong!

According to the Guinness World Records, the version of this song sung by Bing Crosby is the best-selling single of all time, with estimated sales in excess of 100 million copies worldwide.

Other versions of the song, along with Bing Crosby’s, have sold over 150 million copies.

The 1942 film ‘Holiday Inn’ introduced the song, “White Christmas”, one of the most recorded songs in history.

It was First sung in the film by Bing Crosby (along with Marjorie Reynolds), it has sold over 50 million records and stayed no. 1 on the pop and R&B charts for 10 weeks. Crosby’s version is the best-selling single of all time.

Richard Corliss noted that the song was even more significant having been released soon after America entered World War II: [it] “connected with… GIs in their first winter away from home. To them it voiced the ache of separation and the wistfulness they felt for the girl back home, for the innocence of youth….”

Poet Carl Sandburg too said, “Way down under this latest hit of his, Irving Berlin catches us where we love peace.”

“White Christmas” won Berlin the Academy Award for Best Music in an Original Song, one of seven Oscar nominations he received during his career.

Irving Berlin is the only Academy Award presenter and Academy Award winner to open the “envelope” and read his or her own name (for “White Christmas”). This result was so awkward for Berlin (since he had to present the Oscar to himself) that the Academy changed the rules of protocol the following year to prevent this situation from arising again.

In subsequent years, the song was re-recorded and became a top-10 seller for numerous artists: Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford, Ernest Tubb, The Ravens and The Drifters.

bing crosby white christmas Listening To My Favourite Christmas Songs: In Kalimpong!

This 8-line song that paints a picture of holiday nostalgia ,in the 1942 movie ‘Holiday Inn’, where Bing Crosby sings it from the perspective of a New Yorker stranded in sunny California during Christmas.

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white”.
Crosby recorded a version of the song for release as a single with the Kim Darby Singers and the John Scott Trotter Orchestra on May 29, 1942 – a few months before the movie hit theaters.

The version began with these words:

“The sun is shining, the grass is green
The orange and palm trees sway
There’s never been such a day
In Beverly Hills, LA
But it’s December the 24th
And I’m longing to be up north…”

But, at the advice of Bing’s record producer Jack Kapp, this original first verse was expunged as it made no sense outside of the context of the film.

So it started with the familiar, “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,” the song became a huge hit, going to #1 on the Billboard chart (measuring sales) in October, and staying in the top spot for 11 weeks, taking it through the first two weeks of 1943.

Irving Berlin wrote another holiday song that Crosby also sang in the film: “Let’s Start the New Year Right.” This was released as the B-side of the “White Christmas” single.

The first public performance of the song was by Bing Crosby, on his NBC radio show The Kraft Music Hall on Christmas Day, 1941; a copy of the recording from the radio program is owned by the estate of Bing Crosby and was loaned to CBS News Sunday Morning for their December 25, 2011, programme.

He subsequently recorded the song with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra and the Ken Darby Singers for Decca Records in just 18 minutes on May 29, 1942, and it was released on July 30 as part of an album of six 78-rpm discs from the film Holiday Inn. At first, Crosby did not see anything special about the song. He just said “I don’t think we have any problems with that one, Irving.”

Bing Crosby re-recorded the song on March 19, 1947, again with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra because the original masters had been worn out from all the pressings. It is this version that we hear today.

In 1942 alone, Crosby’s recording spent eleven weeks on top of the Billboard charts. The original version also hit number one on the Harlem Hit Parade for three weeks, Crosby’s first-ever appearance on the black-oriented chart. Re-released by Decca, the single returned to the #1 spot during the holiday seasons of 1945 and 1946 (on the chart dated January 4, 1947), thus becoming the only single with three separate runs at the top of the U.S. charts. The recording became a chart perennial, reappearing annually on the pop chart twenty separate times before Billboard magazine created a distinct Christmas chart for seasonal releases.

The original Drifters with Clyde McPhatter as their lead vocalist recorded their Doo-Wop version in November 1953. It hit #2 on the R&B charts in 1954, and made the Pop charts in 1955. The deep bass-tenor voice we hear on this version was Bill Pinkney, who was an early member of the group. The Drifters version made the Hot 100 (the chart was introduced in 1958) twice alongside Crosby’s version: in 1960 (Bing #26, Drifters #96) and in 1962 (Bing #38, Drifters, #88).

By 1954, this song was a holiday favorite, and that year Paramount Pictures released a movie called ‘White Christmas’ to tie in with it. Bing Crosby starred in the film along with Danny Kaye, and of course performed his famous song.

Elvis Presley recorded this song in 1957 along with other holiday standards for his ‘Elvis’ Christmas Album’.

Most songwriters dream of having Elvis record their songs, but Irving Berlin spoke out against it, calling it a “profane parody of his cherished yuletide standard” and claiming that his staff was ordered to call radio stations and ask them not to play it.

Andy Williams also released this song on his very first Christmas album (there were eight total), The Andy Williams Christmas Album in 1963, which also debuted his own enduring holiday classic “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” His version of “White Christmas” also became the #1 selling Christmas single that year.

More recently, Lady Gaga recorded a jazzy version for her 2011 A Very Gaga Holiday EP. Her take includes an original verse in which she jokes, “O.K., I suppose it’s not very white outside yet.”

“Wonderful Christmas Time”: Paul McCartney

wonderful christmastime Listening To My Favourite Christmas Songs: In Kalimpong!

“The mood is right
The spirits up
We’re here tonight
And that’s enough

Simply having a wonderful Christmas time

The party’s on
The feeling’s here
That only comes
This time of year

Simply having a wonderful Christmas time

The choir of children sing their song
Ding dong, ding dong

Simply having a wonderful Christmas time

The word is out
About the town
To lift a glass
Ahhh don’t look down

Simply having a wonderful Christmas time

The party’s on
The spirits up
We’re here tonight
And that’s enough

Simply having a wonderful Christmas time

Christmas time”

Paul McCartney and John Lennon, the greatest songwriting duo of all time, each released Christmas tunes after their Beatles split and they both offered of what the holiday music has to offer. McCartney’s contribution to holiday-related song is ‘Wonderful Christmas Time’.

The 1979 Christmas song by Paul McCartney enjoyed significant Christmas time popularity around the world. The song was later added as a bonus track on the 1993 CD reissue of Wings’ Back to the Egg album.

The track was subsequently added as a bonus track to the 2011 reissue of the McCartney II album, with both full and edited versions included. The track was also mixed in 5.1 surround sound for inclusion on the 2007 DVD release ‘The McCartney Years’.

The Promo music video was filmed at the Fountain Inn in Sussex, UK.

“Wonderful Christmastime” can also be heard in the 1998 animated film ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’: The Movie during Santa’s takeoff on Christmas Eve. Wings performed the song during their 1979 tour of the UK.

Following its release as a stand-alone single in the United Kingdom, “Wonderful Christmastime” peaked at No. 6 on the United Kingdom Singles Chart on the week ending 5 January 1980.

Although the song did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in the United States, it did chart for two weeks on Billboard‘s specially designated Christmas Singles chart in December 1984, peaking at No. 10. It also reached No. 29 on Billboard‘s weekly Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart in early January 1996.

The 1979 release did reach the top 100 in the US music trades Cashbox (#83) and Record World.

The song continues to receive substantial airplay every year.

Of course, some music critics consider this number to be one of McCartney’s poorest compositions. Some others differ too.

Robert Rodriguez the author who wrote on Beatles commented on “Wonderful Christmastime”: “Love it or hate it, few songs within the McCartney oeuvre have provoked such strong reactions”.

Paul McCartney re-recorded the song in 2013 with the a cappella group Straight No Chaser for their EP, Under the Influence: Holiday Edition..

‘Silent Night’: The German Song That Has Become The Most Popular Christmas Song Today

“Silent night, Holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin, mother and child
Holy infant, tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, Holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord at thy birth
Jesus, Lord at thy birth.

Silent night, Holy night
Shepherds quake, at the sight
Glories stream from heaven above
Heavenly, hosts sing Hallelujah.
Christ the Savior is born.”

christmas time Listening To My Favourite Christmas Songs: In Kalimpong!

(“Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Hirten erst kundgemacht
Durch der Engel Halleluja,
Tönt es laut von fern und nah:
Christ, der Retter ist da!
Christ, der Retter ist da!

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Gottes Sohn, o wie lacht
Lieb’ aus deinem göttlichen Mund,
Da uns schlägt die rettende Stund’.
Christ, in deiner Geburt!
Christ, in deiner Geburt!”)

“Silent Night” (German: Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht) was composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber to lyrics by Joseph Mohr in the small town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria. The song was first performed on Christmas Eve 1818 at St Nicholas parish church in Oberndorf, a village in the Austrian Empire on the Salzach river in present-day Austria. A young priest, Father Joseph Mohr, had come to Oberndorf the year before. The melody was composed by Franz Xaver Gruber, schoolmaster and organist in the nearby village of Arnsdorf. Before Christmas Eve, Mohr brought the words to Gruber and asked him to compose a melody and guitar accompaniment for the church service. Both performed the carol during the mass on the night of December 24.

Story of this song has been told by some films, including Christian Vuissa’s film de Stille Nacht  (2012) and a documentary film The First Silent Night (2014), by Simon Callow.

Including English, “Silent Night” has been translated into over 300 languages around the world and it’s one of the most popular Carols of all time.

In the earlier days of Christmas celebration however, “Silent Night” was not synonymous with Christmas, at least in the English speaking world.

Even during the nineteenth-century, Christmas was not widely celebrated in Britain like today. The Puritans ignored as the Bible was silent on it.

Christmas Carols were somehow popular, and the first significant collection of carols was published in 1833. Though it contained classics like “The First Nöel” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” it had no mention of “Silent Night.”

It all changed in Britain, when the German-born Prince Albert married Queen Victoria, he brought many of the traditions of his native land to Britain, including the Christmas tree, exchange of gifts, and Christmas cards. In 1848, the ‘Illustrated London News’ published a drawing of the royal family celebrating the holiday around a Christmas tree, and very soon the practice became popular around the country.

Then became revitalization of English carols, setting old words to new music. It is probably during this period that many Britishers first came to know about the “Silent Night.”

It was originally written in German.

The song we know as “Silent Night” today was originated as “Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht” in a small Austrian village in the year 1818.

A legend goes like this. In the village, the church organ was broken on Christmas Eve, so the organist and town priest collaborated to create the carol with a guitar accompaniment in order to ensure that the people of Oberndorf did not go without music on the holy night.

The song was translated to English by an American Episcopal priest John Freeman Young, then serving at Trinity Church, New York City, in 1859. Though Christmas had become a national tradition by World War I, “Silent Night” was far from the leading song of the season.

But by the time of the famed 1914 Christmas truce, during the WW I, 100 years ago during Christmas, the Carol played a crucial role in bringing about the temporary break in the fighting.

warring side singing carols Listening To My Favourite Christmas Songs: In Kalimpong!

The two warring sides started singing Carols during the break. After the musical thaw, many of the warriors from either side met in No Man’s Land, exchanged presents, and wished each other Merry Christmas.

Legend has it that “Silent Night” was the only Carol the two sides had in common, but in reality the Germans were much more familiar with the Carol.

One rifleman, Graham Williams, wrote later that the Christmas truce “was actually the first time I heard this carol [“Stille Nacht”], which was not then so popular in this country as it has since become.” Williams was not alone in his unfamiliarity with “Silent Night.” Robert Graves called the carol “Stilly Nucked” in his 1962 short story, “Christmas Truce,” suggesting that it was relatively unfamiliar to the soldier-protagonist as well.

“And I thought, well, this was really a most extraordinary thing,” wrote Graham Williams “two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.”

Christmas music in general took off in the two decades after World War I, coinciding with the rise of radio and the music industry. Bing Crosby, whose Christmas album is one of the most popular of all time, first recorded “Silent Night” in 1928.

In all these years, the song has been recorded and re-recorded by numerous artists. Time magazine found that “Silent Night” is by far the most recorded carol in America since 1978, outstripping runner-up “Joy to the World” almost two to one.

A 2010 study showed that the same applied to Britain. Of the top 10 highest-selling Christmas albums of all time, no less than seven feature the song.

In 2011, UNESCO declared “Silent Night” as an “intangible cultural heritage”.

By Deep Basu

Images are the author’s self-contribution.

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