The True Story behind One Nampa Holiday Classic
Nampa Holiday Atmosphere Stars this Melodic Classic
Why One Nampa Holiday Classic Originated in July
When it comes to the holidays, one favorite story that might seem to be Grinch-worthy is a true one about an evergreen Christmas song—a classic that Nampa shoppers couldn’t avoid even if they wanted to. Its strains haunt Nampa’s holiday atmosphere, everywhere from markets to department stores—and if there’s a Christmas tree lot with a PA system, it will play at least once every half hour.
The musical perennial that’s at the center of the story is the perfectly-named “The Christmas Song.” That’s the one that Nat King Cole first immortalized; it’s his or Mel Tormé’s voice we hear most often. For younger readers who only vaguely recognize Tormé’s name, you’ll recognize his “smooth, soft vocal timbre” singing voice in an instant. Not for nothing, Tormé was nicknamed “The Velvet Fog.” He and his partner, Robert Wells, wrote what BMI says is the most-performed Christmas song of all.
The Christmas Song is the one that starts, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.” One popular story has it that the composers created it one July in an effort to cash in on Christmas—that they just wrote down a list of everything they could think of that’s connected with the season, then put it to music.
You can see how that story got started when you list the lyrics: ‘toys,’ ‘turkey,’ ‘mistletoe,’ ‘Jack Frost,’ ‘Yuletide,’ ‘choir,’ ‘carols,’ ‘Santa,’ ‘sleigh,’ ‘reindeers,’ ‘kids,’—even’ mother’—not to mention those ‘chestnuts roasting on an open fire.’
The real origin is not too far from the fable. According to Tormé, the lyric originated when he came across a half-baked note his partner had scribbled and left on the piano. It had three or four Yuletide images. But the motive for sitting down and creating the song was more immediate and less mercenary. Wells hadn’t been thinking about a song at all: he had just jotted down wintertime images in an effort to “think cool.” It was July 14, and their under-cooled New York City cubbyhole was roasting (probably ‘like an open fire’)!
Here’s hoping that your own Nampa holidays are packed with the best kind of festive celebrations—the kind you’ll want to look back and remember always!