"Blue Christmas" is a Christmas song written by Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson. It is a tale of unrequited love during the holidays and is a longstanding staple of Christmas music, especially in the country genre.
Initial recordings and major versions 
The song was first recorded by Doye O'Dell in 1948, and was popularized the following year in three separate recordings: one by country artist Ernest Tubb; one by bandleader Hugo Winterhalter and his orchestra; and one by bandleader Russ Morgan and his orchestra (the latter featuring lead vocals by Morgan and backing vocals by singers credited as the Morganaires). Tubb's version spent the first week of January 1950 at No. 1 on Billboard magazine's Most-Played Juke Box (Country & Western) Records chart, while Winterhalter's version peaked at No. 9 on Billboard's Records Most Played by Disk Jockeys chart and Morgan's version reached No. 11 on Billboard's Best-Selling Pop Singles chart. Also in 1950 Hugo Winterhalter released a new version, this time sung by Billy Eckstine, with shortened lyrics in a variation close to what is now the common standard for this song.
Elvis Presley cemented the status of "Blue Christmas" as a rock-and-roll holiday classic by recording it for his 1957 LP Elvis' Christmas Album. Presley's version is notable musicologically as well as culturally in that its backing vocalists (especially in the soprano line) replace many major and just minor thirds with neutral and septimal minor thirds, respectively. In addition to contributing to the overall tone of the song, the resulting "blue notes" constitute a musical play on words that provides an "inside joke" or "Easter egg" to trained ears. Presley's original 1957 version was released as a commercially-available single for the first time in 1964. This single was also a hit in the United Kingdom, reaching No. 11 on the British singles chart during the week of 26 December 1964.
American rock band The Beach Boys recorded a version featuring Brian Wilson on lead vocals, releasing it in the US on 16th November 1964, in two separate formats simultaneously:
(a) the B-side of the "The Man with All the Toys" single.
(b) a track on The Beach Boys' Christmas Album.
The Beach Boys' version reached No. 3 on the U.S. Christmas charts but did not chart in the U.K.
Cover versions 
Following the success of Presley's version, the song has been recorded by a host of rock and country artists, as well as some working in other genres, with over sixty-five recorded versions:
A 1960 version recorded by The Browns peaked at No. 97 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in December 1960.
The most successful version of the song in the United Kingdom was recorded by Shakin' Stevens. His 1982 version of the song peaked at No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart (behind "Save Your Love" by Renée and Renato).
A 2011 version of the song recorded by Michael Bublé was included on his holiday album Christmas. Capitalizing on the blues influence of earlier covers, the Bublé recording applies the fire of traditional New Orleans polyphonic jazz and a larger big band sound.
In 1997 ska band The Toasters covered the song on their album "Christma-ska"
Use in film and television 
- ^ Badman, Keith. The Beach Boys. The Definitive Diary of America's Greatest Band: On Stage and in the Studio Backbeat Books, San Francisco, California, 2004. ISBN 0-87930-818-4 p. 72
- ^ Badman, Keith. The Beach Boys. The Definitive Diary of America's Greatest Band: On Stage and in the Studio Backbeat Books, San Francisco, California, 2004. ISBN 0-87930-818-4 p. 58
- ^ Greene, Andy (30 November 2011). "Readers' Poll: The Best Christmas Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Jann S. Wenner. Retrieved 08 December 2011.
- ^ http://www.russmorganorchestra.com/russ.html: see table section "Vocalists with Band Included"
- ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Christmas in the Charts (1920-2004). Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 50,62. ISBN 0-89820-161-6.
- ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Christmas in the Charts (1920-2004). Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 25. ISBN 0-89820-161-6.
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