Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact
Album: I Wish You a Merry ChristmasReleased: 1963
Married couple Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne Baker penned this Christmas carol in October 1962. Generally it was Baker who wrote the lyrics for their songs while Regney composed the music but in this instance it was the other way round.
Regney's lyrics are a plea for peace, and they were written during the Cuban Missile Crisis when the USSR was spotted constructing bases for ballistic nuclear missiles in Cuba. These weapons had the ability to strike most of the continental United States and a confrontation was only averted when they were dismantled at the US president's insistence. Baker stated in an interview with the Los Angeles Times years later that neither could personally perform the entire song at the time they wrote it because of the emotions surrounding the incident. "Our little song broke us up. You must realize there was a threat of nuclear war at the time."
The song has sold tens of millions of copies and has been covered by hundreds of different artists. It was originally recorded by the Harry Simeone Chorale and their version went on to sell more than quarter-million copies during the 1962 Christmas holiday season.
It was Bing Crosby who made the song a worldwide smash hit when he recorded his own version of it for his I Wish You a Merry Christmas album in 1963. Ironically, Crosby laid down his vocals on November 22, 1963, the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
Susan Boyle recorded a version of the carol for her 2010 album, The Gift
. The Scottish singer's rendition is a duet with Amber Stassi, a 33-year-old New York paramedic who was winner of Susan's Search online talent contest, in which applicants recorded a video of themselves singing Silent Night
and uploaded it to her YouTube channel.