Saturday, October 31, 1992

50 Years Ago Today: Bing Crosby hit #1 with "White Christmas"

First posted 10/31/2011; updated 3/28/2019.

image from

White Christmas

Bing Crosby with the Ken Darby Singers and the John Scott Trotter Orchestra

Writer(s): Irving Berlin (see lyrics here)

First Charted: October 3, 1942

Peak: 114 US, 12 GA, 110 HP, 77 CA, 11 HR, 3 AC, 13 RB, 120 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales *: 50.0 US, 1.0 UK, sheet music: 5.0, 56.0 world (includes US + UK)

Radio Airplay *: --

Video Airplay *: 5.97

Streaming *: --

* in millions


Happy Halloween! And Merry Christmas? Hey, if the retail world can break into the yuletide spirit two months in advance, then so can Bing Crosby. “White Christmas” isn’t just a seasonal favorite – the DMDB ranks it as the #1 song of all time.

Much of its rating can be attributed to an estimated 56 million sales worldwide, putting it nearly 20 million ahead of its closest competition, Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind 1997”. Bing perched atop the charts for 11 weeks in 1942. The song recharted eleven times over the next dozen years, even picking up two more weeks at #1 in 1945 and a fourteenth overall week on top in 1947. The song logged over 100 weeks on the pop charts over 20 Christmas seasons.

Irving Berlin, who was often insecure about his work, referred to “White Christmas” not just as the best one he’d ever written, but the best anyone had ever written. LW-84 He wrote his “beautiful, longing ode to snow and the Christmas spirit” BC for the film Holiday Inn; it even won the Academy Award for Best Song. However, much of its success had to do with its addition to the Armed Forces Radio playlist. NPR The song “captures both the celebration and underlying melancholy present for many at the holiday,” BC a theme which resonated with soldiers yearning for better times when they were back home. LW-84

The song also took on a life beyond Bing’s recording. The five million in sales for the sheet music made it one of the ten best-selling sheet music songs of the first half of the century. PM-634 With over 500 versions in dozens of languages, “White Christmas” has also become the most recorded Christmas song. BC At the end of 1998, ASCAP named it the most-performed holiday song of the century. The song is also notable for helping to usher in the era in which performers outdistanced the songwriters in popularity. “Tin Pan Alley had passed into history.” NPR

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Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.


Tuesday, October 6, 1992

R.E.M. released Automatic for the People: October 6, 1992

Originally posted 10/6/11. Updated 2/28/13.

image from

Release date: 6 October 1992
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) Drive (10/3/92, #28 US, #11 UK, #2 AR, #1 MR) / Try Not to Breathe / The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite (2/20/93, #17 UK, #28 AR, #24 MR) / Everybody Hurts (4/17/93, #29 US, #7 UK, #21 MR) / New Orleans Instrumental No. 1 / Sweetness Follows / Monty Got a Raw Deal / Ignoreland (11/21/92, #4 AR, #5 MR) / Star Me Kitten / Man on the Moon (11/28/92, #30 US, #18 UK, #46 AC, #4 AR, #2 MR) / Nightswimming (7/24/93, #27 UK) / Find the River (12/11/93, #54 UK)

Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 2.27 UK, 16.9 world (includes US and UK)

Peak: 2 US, 14 UK


Review: “Continuing to specialize in the art of curve-throwing, R.E.M. followed up its 1991 smash, Out of TimeSK with a return “to their earlier sound” BL “with this fragile album of soft melodies and string arrangements” SK intertwined within “poetically introspective songs.” MJ Automatic for the People “followed its predecessor by a mere 18 months, but remarkably, the tone is vastly different” MJ as the band turned away from “from the sweet pop of Out of TimeAMG to create a “haunting, melancholy masterpiece. At its core, the album is a collection of folk songs about aging, death and loss, but the music has a grand, epic sweep provided by layers of lush strings, interweaving acoustic instruments and shimmering keyboards.” AMG “With Peter Buck still fiddling with his mandolin from the Out of Time sessions, Mike Mills using the keyboards more actively, and Bill Berry stepping up on bass more often than before, it’s not surprising that Michael Stipe was writing and singing with such melancholy.” PS

Automatic for the People “captures the group at a crossroads, as they moved from cult heroes to elder statesmen, and the album is a graceful transition.” AMG It “doesn’t just prove that R.E.M. have stood the test of time, it proves to be R.E.M.’s finest moment.” PS It is their “most emotional, most human album.” BL It is “reflective…with frank discussions on mortality, but it is not a despairing record…R.E.M. have never been as emotionally direct…nor have they ever created music quite as rich and timeless…while the record is not an easy listen, it is the most rewarding record in their oeuvre.” AMG It is “a classic of modern rock.” CD

Highlights include “the rock-into-oblivion Drive,” SK one of the quartet’s strongest hits. SK It is marked by “some nice mandolin” AD and an “ominous death march intro.” PS The opening line, ‘Hey, kids, rock and roll,’ isn’t so much a rallying cry as an expression of anxiety.” SK

“The empathetic Andy Kaufman tribute Man on the Moon,” BL “is a perfect REM pop song, and very happy sounding too.” AD On the other hand, “the sympathetic ballad Everybody Hurts AD taps into more painful emotions. It “must have prevented countless suicide attempts.” SK

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