Did you know you know that record labels used to release special commentary tracks to play along with 45s, much like the ones available on your modern DVDs? It’s true! This holiday season, Scratchbomb has transcribed some Yuletide examples of this bygone format and presents them to you now for your reading pleasure. Today, the commentary track for “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”
KIM GANNON, LYRICIST: I wrote this song in 1943, from the point of a view of a soldier who is overseas for the holidays and can only be home “in his dreams.” So he imagines snow and mistletoe and other comforting features of a traditional Christmas, while he awaits orders to march straight into the mouth of hell itself. I wrote a lot of songs for our enlisted men back during those years, because I felt trying to cheer them up was the least I could do for them while they were fighting so bravely for all of us. Unfortunately, nobody showed any interest in songs like “The Bullet With Your Name On It,” “Your 4F Best Friend Is Taking Out Your Best Girl,” and “That Next Bomber Mission Will Surely Be Your Last.” That all changed when Bing Crosby took a pass at “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”
BING CROSBY: I couldn’t resist. It had such a beautiful melody, and contained a shocking amount of ironic hopelessness. What can I say? It hit me like a belt whip across the heart.
KIM GANNON, LYRICIST: Needless to say, this changed my life. With my foot in the door, I was finally able to get some of my other compositions recorded. Rosemary Clooney did a fantastic version of “Everyone You Know Will Be Dead Some Day,” and Frank Sinatra did a whole album of my songs called Ol’ Blue Eyes Sings Songs for a Swingin’ Party.