The Emotions Behind Elvis Presley's "Blue Christmas" [25 Days of Holiday Songs]

Thank you to all who have read the posts for the “25 Days of Holiday Songs” Challenge”. I am so thrilled that everyone has been enjoying them! Melanie, author of the blog Melanie at Home, writes today’s post about a modern Christmas classic from one of the most influential singers of the latter half of the 20th Century. Enjoy!

“Let’s just get this over with.”

These words, according to backup singer Millie Kirkham, were uttered by Elvis Presley before he recorded his epochal Christmas hit. Elvis hadn’t wanted to record this tune (originated by Doye O’Dell in 1948) and had instructed his backup group, the Jordanaires, to “do something silly” in the background. [1]

When Elvis recorded the song in September 1957, he was worn out.  He had bought Graceland earlier that year (paying $1,000 as a down payment on the home) but had barely spent time in it. Elvis was getting into silly confrontations (like when Elvis pulled a toy gun on a Marine during a fight). He left his high school girlfriend Barbara Hearn behind as he embarked on a series of flirtations with starlets and underage fans.

Presley’s grueling 1956 touring schedule had pivoted into an exhausting filming schedule, and he just wasn’t feeling the song, written by Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson. But his upcoming Christmas album needed some filler, so the tune went onto wax.

The song would not be released as a single until 1964, and when it was, it was an instant classic. In the UK it was the B-Side to “White Christmas” (so colorful!) and shot up the chart to number 11. The mournful tale of unrequited love wold go on to be covered by The Beach Boys, Ringo Starr, and many more.

For me, “Blue Christmas” evokes not only unrequited love but also grief. The first holiday after you lose someone is so difficult--putting up the tree and baking cookies happen on autopilot. “[It] won’t be the same, dear, if you’re not here with me” succinctly describes Christmas 2016 for me.

It is incredible to me how much emotion is in this song, despite Presley’s choppy vocal and instruction to the Jordanaires to get silly. “Blue Christmas” stands the test of time as a tender love song, perfect for getting lost in your memories as you stare at the tree with misty eyes.

You can check this song out on my “25 Days of Holiday Songs” playlist featured on Spotify.



This Post Has 40 Comments

  1. Melanie

    Thank you so much for this opportunity, lovely!

  2. Cathy Kennedy

    I liked reading the backstory on this classic Elvis Christmas song. While it’s not one of my favorites I so enjoy including it during the holidays. It’s a bit too sad for me. ‘Blue Christmas’ is always a part of my life since the passing of my brother in 2006 & this year I’m sure DH & I will find our thoughts on his parents who are no longer with us. His 95-year-old dad passed in March.

  3. Jessica Taylor

    So excited that it is finally acceptable to play Christmas music again! Elvis is my favorite!

  4. Honeycomb Moms

    Wow! I never knew he had such a back story. I’ve never been an Elvis fan, but I did love reading the little nuances about him.

  5. Amber

    I like this song, but I never knew about the back story. How interesting! I’ve always liked his music.

  6. Scott Gombar

    I am not a big fan of Christmas music in general but I don’t believe I have ever listened to this album. I will give it a listen on Amazon Music.

  7. Aditya Tiwari

    Elvis Presley’s music something I never even listen. Some of my relatives still listen his songs and my previous co-working space still play at least twice or thrice in a day.

  8. ohmummymia

    One of my favourite song:) My Dad is a huge fan of Elvis Presley so I need to know this song;p

  9. jessylauren

    I have always wondered how Elvis really was. Such a great song though!

  10. Sundeep

    This song is amazing. I am in love with his voice. Elvis Presley you are gem.

  11. Alayna Frankenberry

    Honestly I like this song more than most holiday songs. It does bum me out, but not as much as hearing Mariah for the 100th time.

  12. shnooksgf

    My mom really loves Elvis Presley,his songs always reminds me of my childhood 😍

  13. Renee Theresa

    Who doesnt love Elvis 🙂 Thanks!!

  14. Jolie Starrett

    Love Elvis and Christmas music!

  15. Sharon Lopez

    I love this song. Well, actually almost all of Elvis’ songs.

  16. Sigrid Says

    Ohhhh I will look into Elvis again. It would be good to reminisce good old times for the holidays. 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration.

  17. Oh wow, i was not aware of the story behind the song at all. But it is always good to know the inspiration behind a creative process!

  18. Abbi Stolagiewicz

    Thanks for sharing the Spotify playlist! Helpful for the holidays

  19. 3TravelBug

    Elvis is one of my favourite ever singers! Happy Holidays 😀

  20. Karminity Blog

    Thank you for sharing. It is always fun and interesting to hear back stories of the legends.

  21. The Travel Bunny

    I love this song, and I’m a bit sad he didn’t want to do it. But it’s nice to learn the back story.

    1. Melanie

      Well, if he had wanted to do it, he probably wouldn’t have had the Jordanaires do that great backing vocal.

  22. wajihabaig

    is it weird that Ive never heard Presley?

  23. I love Christmas songs and Elvis.. Plus I love learning about the meanings behind the lyrics.

  24. Keshia Richmond

    Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas” Is one more selection that his fans will enjoy and hopefully new listeners.

  25. amayszingblogs

    Never heard about Elvis Presley song. I am pretty sure that his fans would appreciate it.

  26. blair villanueva

    Elvis Christmas songs are also classic and beautiful! I love listening to them over and over.

  27. Lynnette

    There are a lot of songs where I get lost in my memories

  28. Wonderful Christmas song selection. Thank you so much for sharing. You always find great stuff to share, how do you even do that. Thanks once again and keep the posts coming.

  29. Fly Away Godddess

    I have a confession to make Christmas time is super hard for me and especially Xmas music. I don’t know why but it is (Well I do know but …another topic). I love ELVIS so now I may just give this another go. Maybe.
    Thank you for the post I would have never ever known.

  30. melissalucy

    Holiday music is THE BEST! Love all of these songs!! 🙂

  31. Jareds_mum

    I am not familiar with this Christmas song probably because my father was not much of an Elvis fan that I did not grow up listening to it. It sure is an interesting song but maybe just a bit too sappy for Christmas.

  32. Lynnette

    Elvis was such a hunk! Love listening to Christmas playlists

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