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Originally recorded in 1950 by Ernest Tubb, Elvis Presley recorded this song in 1957 for his Elvis' Christmas Album. It wasn't released as a single until 1964, when in the US it was backed with "Wooden Heart" from Elvis' soundtrack to his film G.I. Blues, but from 1965 and on, it was backed with "Santa Claus Is Back In Town." (thanks, Jeff - Boston, MA)
In the UK, the single was also released in 1964, but with Elvis' version of "White Christmas
" on the flip, making for a very colorful and seasonal single. (thanks, Phil - Crickhowell, Wales)
Elvis' performed this song for the first time on his 1968 television special, which was called (Singer Presents) 'Elvis' (it was sponsored by Singer sewing machines). Recorded in June, the special aired on December 3 and helped revitalize his career. His performance of "Blue Christmas" is the only video footage that exists of Elvis singing a Christmas song. Before he begins the song, Elvis states: "I'd like to do my favorite Christmas song of the ones I've recorded..."
This has been covered by Ringo Starr, Celine Dion, The Beach Boys, Sheryl Crow, Smash Mouth, Brooks and Dunn, Vince Gill, Face to Face, Bette Midler, Harry Conick Jr., Shakin' Stevens, Bill Haley and the Comets, Eilert Pilarm, Mary Margaret O'Hara, Misfits, Freddy Fender, Collective Soul, and... Porky Pig.
The only version to chart in America is by a family act called The Browns (the siblings Jim Edward, Maxine and Bonnie Brown), who nicked the Hot 100 at #97 with their 1960 recording. (thanks, Brett - Edmonton, Canada)
In late 2008, Martina McBride was digitally composited into footage from Elvis performing this song at his 1968 Christmas special to create a duet version of the song. McBride recorded the song as part of the Christmas Duets album, which featured several female singers, including Carrie Underwood, LeAnn Rimes, and Olivia Newton-John, performing Christmas songs along with recordings of Elvis.
Inserting a voice onto an existing recording isn't all that difficult, but getting McBride on video with Elvis was painstaking, taking about four weeks to piece together. The most difficult shots were the ones from overhead where McBride appears with the full band. There was a small space between Elvis and his guitarist Scotty Moore where she was inserted.
When the duet hit #22 on the Adult Contemporary tally, it became Presley's first entry on that chart since "The Elvis Medley" peaked at #31 in 1982.
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