'A Charlie Brown Christmas'

January 2, 2019

Title: “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

Artist: Vince Guaraldi Trio

Release date: 1965 originally (2018 Barnes & Noble exclusive)

Favorite track: “Christmas Time is Here”

This record has been one moment, one decision shy of my record collection for years.

My friend ordered “A Charlie Brown Christmas” online for me one Christmas a few years back, and it broke in half in the mail. I’ve picked it up and put it back on several occasions in several different places. It’s also crossed my field of vision many times while online shopping, although I never added it to my imaginary cart — even if I did, it probably still wouldn’t have made it across the finish line with all the other items on my wish list.

This year, it was destined to be mine.

I saw this new picture disc version at Barnes & Noble, and I snatched it up, along with a couple of other holiday albums. I checked out within five minutes of entering the store, so I wouldn’t give myself a chance to reconsider.

If you ever shop for vinyl, you know it often has no rhyme or reason. Some days you just want a certain album, and other days you don’t.

MUSIC

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” is one of those brilliant masterpieces bestowed upon the world — right up there with “Seinfeld,” “To Kill a Mockingbird” and the Mona Lisa.

Watching the charming TV special based on the comic strip, “Peanuts,” by Charles M. Schulz, is a quintessential Christmas tradition for many. It sparks the minds of children and warms the hearts of adults.

I think the TV special and its musical accompaniment are decorated with adjectives such as "classic" and "iconic," because they carry a pestering notion of near perfection. I can’t think of a more fitting term than “inspired.”

The jazz soundtrack by renowned pianist Vince Guaraldi and his trio was similarly influential. It was voted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2007 and added to the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry list of “culturally, historically or aesthetically important” American sound recordings in 2012.

It doesn’t feel like Christmas until I’ve heard the melancholic voices singing “Christmas Time is Here.”

One of my other favorites is the opening track, “O Tannenbaum.” The contemporary jazz song makes me feel as if I’m scanning the room at an elegant Christmas party. From my experience, it’s also excellent background music for cleaning your house. You’re welcome.

This isn’t a particularly cheerful Christmas album. While it does host rich layers of warmth, it might not uplift. I think it evokes a more peaceful, sometimes playful presence.

The use of children’s vocals mimicking drums in “My Little Drum,” chanting in “Christmas Time is Here” and cooing in “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” is appropriate. It's a reminder of how Christmas is a magical holiday in the eyes of children.

Likely the most familiar and popular song is “Linus and Lucy,” and it’s obvious why. The piano is easily recognizable in the first 10 seconds. The upbeat track is pure genius.

“Christmas is Coming” has the same classic charm.

How this soundtrack relates to the Christmas TV special is how the past relates to the present. You really can’t have one without the other.

DESIGN

Part of Charlie Brown’s appeal lies in the cartoon itself — the dotted eyes, frumpy figure and one curly stroke of hair on the forehead. The characters are all similarly pared down sketches, often wearing smiles or other easily identifiable expressions.

Needless to say, seeing these adorable children on the picture disc tickles me. I also enjoy how much they stand out against the white-colored vinyl.

I’m glad I waited to buy this album for this picture disc.

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