I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Kei Kobayashi -- Christmas Time Is Here

Indeed with 9 sleeps left before the inevitable early-morning invasion by the children toward the presents under the Christmas tree, the seasonal music is coming in thick and heavy like the hoped-for snow that will blanket everything on Xmas Eve. During my daily carousings of YouTube, I ran into a variety of videos devoted to the very first Xmas cartoon special that I remember as a baby, "A Charlie Brown Christmas".

All of those who have seen the perennially televised show will know what I mean, but "A Charlie Brown Christmas" is chock-filled with "Peanuts" melodic favourites such as the famous "Linus & Lucy", "Skating" and, of course, the main theme of "Christmas Time Is Here", all by the late jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi. Guaraldi and "Peanuts" are so tied at the hip that whenever any of those tracks end up on speakers in a mall or on a home stereo, I've been told "Oh yeah, that's Charlie Brown or Peanuts music". I can only imagine back in the 1960s though what CBS must have thought at the idea of incorporating cool jazz music into a Christmas cartoon special.

It wouldn't be for many years that I realized how melancholy if beautiful "Christmas Time Is Here" sounds, and I figured that it was ideal for the sad sack named Charlie Brown. There have been a lot of images described by various commenters whenever they hear this one. My image is very simple and seasonal: nighttime, snow falling, armchair, cocoa and lots of marshmallows, Xmas tree with lights slowly flashing on and off.

On hearing this classic, I figured that jazz singer Kei Kobayashi(小林桂)must have covered this since its natural mellowness is perfect for him. He has covered a couple of other Yuletide tunes, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "Merry Christmas Darling" on his 2001 album "Wonderland". Sure enough, "Christmas Time Is Here" is in there. Whoever is playing the piano for Kobayashi in the above video has got the right Guaraldi feeling.

Getting back to "A Charlie Brown Christmas", to counter the mellow "Christmas Time Is Here" is the joyful "Linus & Lucy" backing up one of my favourite scenes in all cartoons. Indeed, Snoopy is lit!

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