It was September, 1977. Bing Crosby was in England, taping a Christmas special to be broadcast here in America. It could have wound up being just another show of traditional Christmas music… stuff we had all heard 100 times or more… But this was Bing Crosby, crooner extraordinaire. Bing was getting on in years but his laid back delivery was still spot on.
The sad truth was, less than a month later, Crosby would be gone. So it was an especially meaningful show to watch, as it didn’t air in America until after his passing. And we all knew his kind of performer will likely never come this way again.
As a young man, I watched this 1977 Christmas special, partly because Crosby was gone and even as a young man, I understood Crosby’s stature in show business. But I was also interested in watching a young emerging star named David Bowie.
I don’t think anyone was quite prepared for the appropriately conservative performance we were about to see. It was a traditional Christmas rendition of “The Little Drummer Boy.” But something new had been added. New words and music layered on top of the traditional melody and lyric.
It was one of those moments of serendipity that catches people off-guard… at the end of the century, TV Guide would credit the Crosby-Bowie duet as one of the 25 most memorable musical moments of 20th century television.
In the new portion, Bowie sings hopefully:
Peace on Earth
Can it be?
Years from now,
Perhaps we’ll see
See the day of Glory
See the day when men of good will
live in peace, live in peace, again
Peace on Earth…
Can it be?
Today, some 32 years later, we’re still asking the same question. My generation certainly has failed in the task. Still, my wish for you all this Christmas:
I pray my wish
will come true
for my child
and your child too
They’ll see the day of glory
see the day when men of good will
Live in peace, live in peace, once again.
Peace on earth
Can it be?
In the 20th Century, we proved we cannot do it alone. Maybe we’ll learn our lesson here, in the 21st. Because if we don’t, there may not be a 22nd.
May God help us find our way… we’re not doing such a good job on our own. And that is why I choose to believe, and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ today.
H/T YouTube poster Sungchoi