The second song of Christmas: Drifted snow

The original is the best-selling single of all time, as recorded by one of the greatest crooners of all time. I can respect that, but there’s something to be said for a band that can cover a beloved standard and absolutely make it their own. And Clyde McPhatter & the Drifters did just that with “White Christmas.”

The Drifters went through so many iterations and probably had so many re-releases, I have no way of knowing if the image I found is from the original release. Regardless, it came out during their first year, when Clyde McPhatter was still their lead vocalist — and his tremulous tenor, alternating with Bill Pinkney’s resonant bass, is glorious in their rendition of the Irving Berlin classic. Sorry, Bing Crosby, but crooners be damned — this R&B quintet doo-wopped the hell out of your song.

The first time I heard it, I was riding in a car, listening to a local pop station. It captivated me. Afterward, the DJ made every effort at using what might qualify as a “dulcet” tone of voice to say, “Just drifting with the Drifters, mm-hmm. Drifting along through White Christmas.” That’s corny, but also a little bit perfect.

The word that comes to mind for me when I hear this version is, onomatopoeia. First, the doo wop style is all about onomatopoeia; in fact, I had to think long and hard about how to spell some of the sounds they sing, to make sure I got them right. Is it “doot, doop” or “doo, doot?”

Secondly, the song itself is sort of an onomatopoeia for a snowstorm. That DJ was right — it’s entirely possible to get lost, drifting like a snowflake, as you listen to their mesmerizing vocals. They sound like a snowstorm — from the opening flurries to the full-on blizzard as the storm progresses. And while we’re on this subject, how perfect is it that a band called “Drifters” sang a song about snow?

As an added bonus, this song exemplifies what I refer to as “The Jingle Bells Phenomenon” and sometimes as “The Jingle Bells Curse,” depending on my frame of mind at the moment I encounter it. Christmas songs, more than any other genre, tend to blend in musical licks and/or lyrics from other songs in the same genre, and I suspect “Jingle Bells” far exceeds any others in terms of the number of songs that lapse into it. You’ll be listening to a song that is decidedly not “Jingle Bells” when all of a sudden, whoops, it’s “Jingle Bells” for a moment!

If you haven’t noticed this before, you will now, I promise. It’s astounding. And of course it happens at the end of this version; they go from “White Christmas” into a quick bit of “Jingle Bells” with full quintet gusto. It’s like the last little bit of the storm, blowing snow off the roof into an even bigger drift in front of your door. But that’s okay, because you’re inside by the fire, drifting.

Enjoy “White Christmas.”


Lyrics:

Boo-doo, doo-doo (Doot-doop, doot-doo-doop…)
Boo-ooo, doo-doo (Doot-doop, doot-doo-doop…)

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know,
Where those treetops glisten and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow, the snow.

Well then, I, I, I am dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write.
May your days, may your days, may your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white.

I, I, I, I’m dreaming of a white Christmas (Doo doo doop)
Just like the ones I used to know,
Where the treetops glisten and the children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow. (Boom, badoo, dadoo, dadoo)

Yi, I, I, I’m dreaming of a white Christmas (Doo doo doo)
With every Christmas card I write.
May those days, may your days, may your days be merry and bright,
(Oooo, oo-ooo, oo-ooo!)
And may all your Christmas-ehhhh-eh-eh-eh-eh-es be whi-i-i-ite, white.
(Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way, oooooh!)


Stocking stuffers:


Day 3:

Not a who, but a what…

About Dan Bain

Dan is an award-winning humorist, features writer, emcee and entertainer from Raleigh, NC. His collection of humor essays, A Nay for Effort, has earned him fans from one end of his couch to the other. Why not join them and buy one? (You won't have to sit on his couch.) Dan will donate 10 percent of the book's proceeds to education. You can check it out at www.danbain.net; thanks!
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1 Response to The second song of Christmas: Drifted snow

  1. Pingback: The third song of Christmas: Not a who, but a what | Bain Waves

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