Phantom Sway

My Favorite Christmas Album: Firestone Presents, “A Christmas Treasure”.

This is not only my favorite Firestone Christmas album, but my favorite Christmas album period.

When I was young boy, my father owned a Firestone tire dealership.  Every year at Christmastime, the Firestone Corporation distributed albums to their dealers to hand out as purchase premiums.
Businesses used to do that; give away things such as glassware at gas stations, toasters at banks, and record albums at tire stores.  These tire store albums were usually recordings that were a few years old, licensed to Firestone for re-issue under the company name.  In other words, regardless of what the album cover says, there actually was no “Firestone Orchestra”.
I think that’s sad.  All companies should have orchestras.
This is not only my favorite Firestone Christmas album, but my favorite Christmas album period. Originally released in 1967 as A Christmas Treasure, it stars Julie Andrews at the height of her early fame and features orchestrations by Woody Allen’s father-in-law. That would be André Previn. Previn backs-up Andrews’ powerful soprano with the kind of over the top arrangements one can only get away with in Christmas songs (and perhaps Hanna-Barbera cartoons of the same period).  Here’s the entire album:
The first track, “Joy to the World”, is for me the fanfare of the season.  And check out Previn’s insane orchestrations on “Deck the Halls” (08:50) and “Jingle Bells” (31:51), the only secular songs on the album.  Dame Julie shines on these no-holds-barred arrangements and then floats over the actual Christmas carols with ethereal grace.  Listen to her voice on the less familiar numbers “Irish Carol” (02:52) and “Wexford Carol” (28:42).  Beautiful.
Which brings me to my favorite Christmas recording of all time, “Away in a Manger” (13:42).  This version has a different melody than the one you may be familiar with.  Maybe that’s why I love it.  I was never fond of that familiar [editor’s note: only familiar in America] melody.  This version is a gorgeous lullaby that grabs me by the heartstrings every time.

André Dupuy

Andre Dupuy is the youngest of five children, a fourth-generation Californian and he knows how to drive a Model-T Ford.

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