A Charlie Brown Christmas is a 1965 studio album by American composer/conductor Vince Guaraldi (later credited to the jazz group the Vince Guaraldi Trio). The album was released in December 1965 in the United States by Fantasy Records. It is the soundtrack to the CBS Christmas television special of the same name. Guaraldi was contacted by television producer Lee Mendelson several years prior to compose music for a documentary on the comic strip Peanuts and its creator, Charles M. Schulz. Although the special went unaired, these selections were released in 1964 as Jazz Impressions of “A Boy Named Charlie Brown”. Coca-Cola commissioned a Christmas special based on Peanuts in 1965 and Guaraldi returned to score the special.
A Charlie Brown Christmas features several originals (“Christmas Time Is Here”, “Linus and Lucy”) as well as covers of well-known Christmas songs (“The Christmas Song”, “O Tannenbaum”). The score for the special was largely cut at recording sessions at Glendale, California’s Whitney Studio. Much of this material was later re-recorded by Guaraldi at three sessions later in the year at Fantasy Recording Studios in San Francisco, alongside a choir of children culled from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in nearby San Rafael. The sessions ran late into the night, with the children rewarded with ice cream afterwards. Bassist Fred Marshall and drummer Jerry Granelli have been credited as performing on the album, although a host of musicians claim to have recorded the album.
Released a week prior to the broadcast premiere of the special, A Charlie Brown Christmas sold well, and became increasingly famous in the ensuing decades. It is among the most popular Christmas albums in the United States, where it has been certified Triple Platinum, having shipped at least three million copies. As of November 2014, A Charlie Brown Christmas is the tenth best-selling Christmas/holiday album in the United States during the SoundScan era of music sales tracking (March 1991 – present), having sold 3,410,000 copies according to SoundScan.
The Vince Guaraldi Trio’s A Charlie Brown Christmas has been voted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and added to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry list of “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important” sound recordings.
1.”O Tannenbaum” (Ernst Anschütz) – 5:08
2.”What Child Is This” (William Chatterton Dix) – 2:25
3.”My Little Drum” (Vince Guaraldi) – 3:12
4.”Linus and Lucy” (Guaraldi) – 3:06
5.”Christmas Time Is Here” (Instrumental) (Guaraldi) – 6:05
6.”Christmas Time Is Here” (Vocal) (Guaraldi) – 2:47
7.”Skating” (Guaraldi) – 2:27
8.”Hark, The Herald Angels Sing” (Charles Wesley) – 1:55
9.”Christmas Is Coming” (Guaraldi) – 3:25
10.”Für Elise” (Ludwig van Beethoven) – 1:06
11.”The Christmas Song” (Mel Tormé, Robert Wells) – 3:17