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Bar Room Blues: “Blue Christmas”

Bar Room Blues is an exclusive series of video guitar lessons by Steve “Red” Lasner covering classic blues songs from historically great guitarists like B.B. King, T-Bone Walker, Buddy Guy, and many others. A new lesson will be released each week, so be sure to subscribe and check back often! Also, if you want more guitar lessons like these, be sure to check out Red’s Guitar Sherpa class.

“Blue Christmas” is a Christmas song written by Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson. Its tale of unrequited love during the holidays and is a longstanding staple of Christmas music, especially in the country genre.

The song was first recorded by Doye O’Dell in 1948 and was popularized the following year in three separate recordings: one by country artist Ernest Tubb; one by bandleader Hugo Winterhalter and his orchestra; and one by bandleader Russ Morgan and his orchestra (the latter featuring lead vocals by Morgan and backing vocals by singers credited as the Morganaires). Tubb’s version spent the first week of January 1950 at # 1 on Billboard magazine’s Most-Played Juke Box (Country & Western) Records chart, while Winterhalter’s version peaked at # 9 on Billboard’s Records Most Played by Disk Jockeys chart and Morgan’s version reached # 11 on Billboard’s Best-Selling Pop Singles chart.

Elvis Presley cemented the status of “Blue Christmas” as a rock-and-roll holiday classic by deleting one verse from Tubb’s version and recording the remainder on his 1957 LP Elvis’ Christmas Album. Presley’s version is notable musicologically as well as culturally in that its backing vocalists (especially in the soprano line) replace many major and just minor thirds with neutral and septimal minor thirds, respectively. In addition to contributing to the overall tone of the song, the resulting “blue notes” constitute a musical play on words that provides an “inside joke” or “Easter egg” to trained ears. Presley’s original 1957 version was released as a commercially-available single for the first time in 1964.

In this video guitar lesson, I’m playing solo acoustic guitar and adding vocals. This is a great song to perform for family and friends while sitting around the Christmas tree! And a very merry Christmas to all!

Video Guitar Lesson

Check out the chart below, and give this bar room blues song a try yourself!

Chart

BlueChristmas

Bar Room Blues is an exclusive series of video guitar lessons by Steve “Red” Lasner covering classic blues songs from historically great guitarists like B.B. King, T-Bone Walker, Buddy Guy, and many others. A new lesson will be released each week, so be sure to subscribe and check back often! Also, if you want more guitar lessons like these, be sure to check out Red’s Guitar Sherpa class.