What would the home front housewife listen to during the holidays? Here’s a list of Christmas songs and links to recordings so you can make your own 1940s playlist. Enjoy!
“White Christmas” was first heard on Bing Crosby’s NBC radio show on Christmas Day, 1941. He recorded it for his 1942 movie “Holiday Inn” with the Ken Darby Singers and John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra. The song has been wildly successful, and Crosby’s version is the world’s best selling single. It’s definitely one of my favorites and I’ve included that 1942 recording for you here.
I’ll Be Home For Christmas
Bing Crosby also had a top ten hit with “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”. He recorded this original version in 1943, again with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra. The song was written for soldiers who were overseas for the holidays.
Jingle Bells/Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Here’s a fun record from 1943. The Andrews Sisters join Bing Crosby for two favorites. “Jingle Bells” was on side A and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” was on side B. If you are curious, “Jingle Bells“ was written in 1857 and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” was written in 1934. The link will take you to a page that includes both songs.
I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm
Irving Berlin had another hit with his 1937 “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm”. It’s been a popular song ever since it debuted in the movie “On the Avenue” with Dick Powell and Alice Faye. I’ve included that recording here.
Written in 1934, “Winter Wonderland” is another favorite that the home front housewife would have enjoyed. Technically not a Christmas song, it’s commonly played during the holiday season. This version features Ambrose and His Orchestra in 1935.
Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!
Written in July 1945, this one barely makes it into our war years time period. I’ve included it here even though the war was over before the holiday season began that year. The first person to record it was Vaughn Monroe, and I’ve included that version here.
The Christmas Song
This is another that barely makes it into our time period. It was written by Robert Wells and Mel Torme in 1945, but it wasn’t until June 1946 that Nat King Cole and The King Cole Trio recorded the song. That first recording is the one I’ve added here.
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
This song was written in 1943 and sang by Judy Garland in 1944’s “Meet Me in St. Louis”. The lyrics were changed just slightly in the late 1950s. See if you can hear the difference. This is Frank Sinatra’s 1947 recording.
Post War Songs
I’m cheating a bit by adding these songs, but these were written and/or recorded in the late 1940s and nicely round out our list.
Here Comes Santa Claus
Gene Autry was the first to record this song in 1947.
Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer
Gene Autry had a Christmas hit again in 1949.