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It's Christmas at CHIRP Radio, and we're looking for a cure for the common carol. Instead of bending to the will of the average 24-hour holiday muzak stations, we're spending the season unearthing a bunch of winter-approved tunes that you probably haven't heard for a while (or maybe even ever). Today: Glenn Miller takes his orchestra skiing.
Glenn Miller and His Orchestra, "It Happened in Sun Valley" (1941)
My love of seasonal music is well-documented on this blog, and not limited to songs specifically dealing with Christmas and New Year's. Since this countdown begins at the point in December furthest from actual Christmas morning, I figured we could start with a track honoring plain old winter. Written and recorded by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra for their 1941 feature film debut Sun Valley Serenade, "It Happened in Sun Valley" doesn't necessarily pack the Great American Songbook staying power of the movie's other songs, which included "Chattanooga Choo Choo," "Moonlight Serenade," and "In the Mood." However, a song doesn't have to rank among the unimpeachable classics to be a pretty great holiday tune. Like "Jingle Bells" before it and "Sleigh Ride" after it, Miller's song paints a picture of romance blossoming during a wintertime romp, trading the one-horse open sleigh for the sleek skis and posh slopes of Sun Valley, Idaho. It's a pop paean to health and heartiness, and a catchy reminder that, despite the short days and plummeting temperatures, there's still life to be lived outside. As one YouTube commenter pointed out, it also gave us the enduring image of Glenn Miller trying his damnedest to look natural while throwing a snowball on cue, which is a gift in and of itself. You can still ski the slopes of Sun Valley today; according to this afternoon's weather report, 23 of the area's 80 trails are open and ready for runs.
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