Vince Guaraldi: A Charlie Brown Christmas

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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 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,” remembers 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; 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.

This story was produced by Ben Manilla for BMP Audio. 

More Peanuts on Studio 360:

You’re a Complicated Man, Charlie Brown

Kurt talks with Charles Schulz’s biographer David Michaelis about how America’s most beloved comic strip made “depressed” a household word.

 

 

Aha Moment: Peanuts in Panama

Victoria de Puy and her daughter Geraldine read Peanuts in Panama City, and the comic strip taught them about the United States — but were there really so many leaves to rake?

 

 

Peanuts: The Early Years

Read Peanuts cartoons from the 1950s and '60s.

 

 

Music Playlist

  1. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer

    Artist: The Irish Rovers
    Album: Songs of Christmas
    Label: Rover Records
  2. Linus and Lucy

    Artist: Vince Guaraldi Trio
    Album: A Charlie Brown Christmas
    Label: Fantasy Records
  3. Wonderful Christmastime

    Artist: Paul McCartney
    Album: McCartney II
    Label: Hear Music
  4. The Christmas Song

    Artist: Vince Guaraldi Trio
    Album: A Charlie Brown Christmas
    Label: Fantasy Records
  5. Cast Your Fate to the Wind

    Artist: Vince Guaraldi Trio
    Album: Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus
    Label: Fantasy Records
  6. Linus and Lucy

    Artist: David Benoit
    Album: Happy Anniversary, Charlie Brown!
    Label: GRP Records
  7. Linus and Lucy

    Artist: George Winston
    Album: Linus & Lucy - The Music of Vince Guaraldi
    Label: Dancing Cat/George Winston
  8. Linus and Lucy

    Artist: Wynton Marsalis Septet
    Album: Joe Cool's Blues
    Label: Columbia
  9. Christmas Time Is Here (Vocal)

    Artist: Vince Guaraldi Trio
    Album: A Charlie Brown Christmas
    Label: Fantasy Records
  10. Christmas Time Is Here (Instrumental)

    Artist: Vince Guaraldi Trio
    Album: A Charlie Brown Christmas
    Label: Fantasy Records
  11. Skating

    Artist: Vince Guaraldi Trio
    Album: A Charlie Brown Christmas
    Label: Fantasy Records