Christmas Time Is Here

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"Christmas Time Is Here"
US 7" single
Single by Vince Guaraldi
from the album A Charlie Brown Christmas
ReleasedDecember 1965 (1965-12)
Recorded1965
GenreJazz, Christmas music
Length6:05 (instrumental version)
2:43 (vocal version)
LabelFantasy
Composer(s)Vince Guaraldi
Lyricist(s)Lee Mendelson
Vince Guaraldi singles chronology
"Theme to Grace"
(1965)
"Christmas Time Is Here"
(1965)
"I'm a Loser (live)"
(1966)

"Christmas Time Is Here" is a popular Christmas standard written by Vince Guaraldi and Lee Mendelson for the 1965 television special A Charlie Brown Christmas,[1] one of the first animated Christmas specials produced for network television in the United States.

Two versions were included on the album A Charlie Brown Christmas: an instrumental version by the Vince Guaraldi Trio and a vocal version by choristers from St. Paul's Episcopal Church in San Rafael, California, who had previously performed with Guaraldi on At Grace Cathedral (1965).

Background[edit]

"Christmas Time Is Here" was composed by jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi to accompany the opening of the 1965 television special A Charlie Brown Christmas. It was originally written as an instrumental, but producer Lee Mendelson decided that the song needed lyrics. Mendelson recalled, "When we looked at the show about a month before it was to go on the air, I said, 'That's such a pretty melody; maybe we should try and find some people to put some lyrics to it.'" When he was unable to find someone available, he wrote the lyrics himself:

So I sat down with an envelope — I'll never forget this — at our kitchen table and wrote 'Christmas Time Is Here' in about ten minutes. It was a poem that just came to me — never changed the words to this day. It was only about a minute long. And Vince got a bunch of little kids together to sing it.[2]

The vocals for the song were provided by the children's choir at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in San Rafael. Guaraldi had previously performed with the ensemble at his May 1965 "jazz mass" performance at Grace Cathedral.[3]

The song has since become a perennial Christmas classic. Drummer Jerry Granelli of the Vince Guaraldi Trio commented, "It's amazing: Vince finally wrote a standard. 'Christmas Time Is Here' has been recorded as a standard, and Vince always wanted to write a standard. So he made it."[2]

Musical composition[edit]

The song is a waltz composed in F major with an AABA form. During the "B section", the song tonicizes into the key of D-flat major.

Form
A section
FΔ7 E♭7♯11 FΔ7 E♭7♯11
Bø7 B♭-7 A-7 Ab-7 G-7 C7 FΔ7
B section
D♭Δ7 G♭7♯11 D♭Δ7 G♭7♯11
A-7 D7♯9 G-7 C13

Reception and legacy[edit]

"Christmas Time Is Here" remains a popular Christmas song long after its release; as Matt Thompson of The Atlantic writes, "If it wasn’t already a standard that first time it was played, it is now the very definition."[4] Erik Adams of The A.V. Club pointed to the song's juxtaposition of nostalgic lyrics and minor-key composition as a reason for its longevity: "As 'Christmastime Is Here' and the other songs from A Charlie Brown Christmas have been folded into the catalogue of enduring Christmas carols, they’ve continued to stand out by representing a particular strain of wintry melancholy."[5]

The song has also charted on the Holiday 100, reaching number 17 in 2017—over 50 years after its original release.[6]

Charts[edit]

Chart performance for "Christmas Time Is Here"
Chart (2017–2022) Peak
position
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[7] 40
Global 200 (Billboard)[8] 82
US Billboard Hot 100[9] 41
US Holiday 100 (Billboard)[6] 17

Cover versions[edit]

The first person to record a cover version of the song was jazz guitarist Ron Escheté on the album Christmas Impressions (1982). David Benoit followed him on the album Christmastime (1983). They were followed by Patti Austin and Debby Boone (both in 1989); Mel Tormé (1992), then Rosemary Clooney, R.E.M., and Stone Temple Pilots before the turn of the century.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The BMI Holiday Countdown: Vince Guaraldi Trio, "Christmas Time is Here"". BMI. December 20, 2011. Retrieved December 7, 2016.
  2. ^ a b Wernick, Adam. "The music of Vince Guaraldi helped make 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' a cultural icon". The World from PRX. Retrieved 1 December 2021.
  3. ^ Bang, Derrick (September 20, 2014). "How Vince Guaraldi Made Charlie Brown Cool". medium.com. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  4. ^ Thompson, Matt (21 December 2015). "'Christmas Time Is Here': A Hymn for the Ages". The Atlantic. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
  5. ^ Adams, Erik. "A Charlie Brown Christmas' soundtrack captures the holiday spirit". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
  6. ^ a b "Holiday 100: The week of January 7, 2017". billboard.com. Archived from the original on April 7, 2018. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  7. ^ "Vince Guaraldi Trio Chart History (Canadian Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved January 5, 2022.
  8. ^ "Vince Guaraldi Trio Chart History (Global 200)". Billboard. Retrieved January 5, 2022.
  9. ^ "Vince Guaraldi Trio Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved January 5, 2022.
  10. ^ Bang, Derrick (2012). A Charlie Brown Christmas (booklet). Beverly Hills: Concord Music Group. p. 12.