Guaraldi's Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack differentiates itself in noisy season
The soundstrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas certainly isn't new, but it does stand out. Christmas music is filled with jingle bells and snowmen, but not so with Vince Guaraldi's work. His soundtrack has been recognized and preserved in the National Recording Registry from the Library of Congress.
The soundtrack of the holidays is lousy with annoying songs about sleigh rides and snowmen, and beautiful old carols done up as treacly as possible.
One of the saving graces this time of year, though, is the music from A Charlie Brown Christmas, written by Vince Guaraldi.
Guaraldi’s “Linus and Lucy” theme became identified forever with the Peanuts gang and their creator, Charles Schulz.
Schulz described how Guaraldi "had captured something about the lilting quality of the kids,” remembered Jean Schulz, his widow. “The way they walk and bounce a little bit — he captured that in his music.”
The theme is one of the most familiar pieces in jazz, though its composer, who died in his 40s, was never widely known outside the West Coast jazz scene.
A Charlie Brown Christmas was chosen for preservation in 2012 in the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry.
Its story is told by Jean Schulz, as well as Jerry Granelli, the drummer who played with Guaraldi, and Lee Mendelsohn, the producer who worked closely with Schulz on the Christmas special and later Peanuts programs.
See a list of songs from Guaraldi's album at Studio360.org.
PRI's Peabody Award-winning "Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen" from WNYC is public radio's smart, surprising guide to what's happening in pop culture and the arts. Each week, Kurt introduces you to the people who are creating and shaping our culture. Let Studio 360 steer you to the must-see movie, the next book for your nightstand, or the song that will get stuck in your ear.<