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From: 'lectric mandolin man
Date: December 16, 2008
Actually, 'The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...) was a song written by Mel Torme who wrote all the music and most of the lyrics with a songwriting pal Bob Wells (not Wills) who had scribbled the opening lines on a notepad in 1944. The first recording of it was in 1946 by Nat King Cole which has become the accepted standard of excellence in this songs performance. Torme who was an ace jazz drummer and aspiring crooner at the time the song was penned eventually recorded the song in 1954 with the Errol Garner Trio.
I don't believe Bob Wills did this tune, but Irving Berlin's 'White Christmas' was an oft requested song in the immediate post WWII years at Bob's dances and Round Up radio shows during the Christmas season in Fresno, CA with Les Anderson doing the vocals. Later on in 1950 among the Jergen's Lotion shows Bob and Co did in Dallas (transcribed radio shows not cut on 16 inch discs (and predate audio tape) which were done on wire recorder!) Jimmie Widener can be heard singing 'Blue Christmas' which is a real treat because it predates the later big hit on the song in the late 50's by Elvis. Though not a Bob Wills recording, Leon McAuliffe's 'A Cowboys Christmas Song' sang by Jimmy Hall is a great record from the late 40's. Wasn't there a Johnnie Lee Wills Christmas song recorded on Bullet or RCA?