I'm going to go ahead and kick off the Christmas sharing season tonight. To start things off, here is "Silent Night" by Les Paul and Mary Ford, from the Capitol 45 rpm pairing with "Jingle Bells". I have never found this recording available in the US on CD or as an MP3, so with great pleasure I'm sharing it with you.
In my opinion, "Silent Night" is an incredibly difficult song for an artist to truly make their own. Slow and soulful interpretations tend to sound more like dirges than carols. Jazzy, upbeat versions lose the reverence of the song. Straightforward performances seem flat. I do have a performance (unsharable) by a marching band that is wonderful, but generally I'm unimpressed with most version.
Enter Mary Ford. Les Paul once described Mary's voice as weak, which is why he so often enhanced her voice with a pickup delay, creating their signature sound. Here, though, Mary is not multi-tracked, and the result is beautiful. Mary has given us a performance of "Silent Night" that stands with the best.
I had the immense pleasure and privilege of seeing Les Paul perform at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York in June of 2007. We helped Les celebrate his 92nd birthday that evening. Les and his guests gave us a great show.
Enjoy Les Paul and Mary Ford performing "Silent Night".
Update: Sorry folks - had to remove this link. "Silent Night" is now available on the Capitol digital reissue of "Christmas Kisses", a fine collection. Check it out here.