Still Dreaming of a 'White Christmas'

A Look Back at the Biggest Pop Song of All Time

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/850892/851289" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
  • Transcript
Irving Berlin at the piano

Irving Berlin in 1948. Library of Congress hide caption

itoggle caption Library of Congress

In January 1940, Irving Berlin, the most popular songwriter in America, raced into his office and asked his musical secretary to take down a new song. "Not only is it the best song I ever wrote, it's the best song anybody ever wrote," he said. His "White Christmas" was a seasonal, secular hymn that has lasted over half a century.

"Today, we can hardly imagine Christmas without secular Christmas tunes, but really they weren't part of popular music culture until Irving Berlin wrote 'White Christmas'," says Jody Rosen, author of the new book, White Christmas: The Story of an American Song.

Though it has been recorded hundreds of times, the version most people remember is the classic by Bing Crosby. It was first featured in the 1942 film Holiday Inn and later in the 1954 movie White Christmas.

On Morning Edition, NPR's Susan Stamberg reports on the history of the most popular pop song of all time.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.