Monday, November 1, 2010

Christmas Music Season Begins: Les Paul and Mary Ford

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.


  1. Thanks for the share Der Bingle! I've been looking for this one.

    Les Paul sure did a lot for the music industry -he deserved more much more recognition than he got for his inventions and innovations.

    Noma Lights

  2. Thanks, and welcome to the blogosphere! I'm glad I checked into Santas Working Overtime today, who clued me in to your new blog.

  3. Thanks to both of you - I hope you enjoy the rest of the shares I have for this season.

    Les Paul may not have had high sales in his last 20 or so years, but the respect he had from fellow musicians was phenomenal. So many guitarists point to Les as an influence and inspiration. When I saw him he was 92 and having a heck of a great time performing!

  4. There was a Capitol CD - I think it was called "Christmas Kisses" - that I'm thinking this might have been on. But it's been out of print for a long, long time.

  5. any chance of hearing Jingle Bells from the flip?

  6. Jingle Bells is available on several Les Paul CDs that are still in print, and it's also on Amazon as an MP3 download. So, I can't post it here as a share. On some other music sharity sites there are other Les & Mary cuts available, such as The Christmas Song, Jungle Bells, and White Christmas.

  7. i figured that was the case but hadn't checked. anyway, thanks! i'm looking forward to whatever other treasures you have to offer for the season.

  8. In my collection of les and Mary i have 5 christmas songs including JUNGLE BELLS DING DONG - SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN - SILENT NIGHT - JINGLE BELLS - THE CHRISTMAS SONG.