Christmas Song nr 7: Winter Wonderland by Diana Krall

There are classic seasonal songs and then there are classical seasonal songs. Some are classics because we connect them to a movie or holiday special. Others because they remind us of family or friends and some take on a more sacred air. Yet again others, not necessarily about Christmas, just seem to tap into the season by describing those things that we link to that holiday. Winter Wonderland is one of those songs.

Originally written in 1934 by Felix Bernard and Dick Smith and first recorded that same year it has been through the treated some 200 times. Over the years the song has been sung by legends like Johnny Mercer, Perry Como and new artists like Micheal Bublé. As mentioned the tune is not an overtly Christmas one, as the only reference to the season would be sleigh bells but it is widely regarded as one. The lyrics, written by Smith during his time in a sanitarium, describe a snowy landscape and express a yearning for the fun things one can do in that very scenery. Part whimsy, because of the strange references to a Parson Brown and circus clown, and part a still observation of the same.

In the version of Canadian jazz pianist and vocalist Diana Krall, born 1964, the song goes back to the jazzy roots that spawned it, albeit with a more modern take. Krall has been a staple of the jazz scene since she stepped onto it in the 90s and has seven been awarded the Order of British Columbia, as well as a slew of other awards. Her interpretation is a musical embodiment of the words Smith wrote while he gazed out over the snow from his sanitarium window. One can feel the sound of snow under ones feet, the sun caress ones face and the sound of children playing along the sidewalk. The enticement of joining them to build a snowman and dress it up and then just move on.

The fact that the song might actually make a person look forward to the cold of winter is the reason why Winter Wonderland is number seven on the Christmas List.

-Andrew Tobias

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