Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Great Songs of Christmas from Goodyear: An Overview

For seventeen years, from 1961 through 1977, The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company graced each Christmas season with an LP of holiday favorites by various artists, sold both at Goodyear stores and at Richfield (later ARCO) stations.

These records were a big part of Christmas in my growing years, so when GeoCities was all the rage, I put together a site dedicated to the albums, listing not only their content but links to where the songs could be purchased (which was not always possible) and some background information. Now GeoCities is gone, but because of the responses I got to the original site, I am determined to keep the information online for enjoyment and reference. Postings dedicated to each album will be added over the next couple of months. For now, let's start with an overview:

For the first nine years, the albums always had the same title: "The Great Songs of Christmas." In 1970, the album was called "The Best of the Great Songs of Christmas" and featured songs already included in prior releases. The last seven albums had different titles each year (although the "Great Songs of Christmas" title was brought back for the 1975 and 1977 releases).

Until 1975, the albums were produced by Columbia Records through its Columbia Special Products subsidiary, and most often featured artists from the Columbia stable. Whether by choice or by legal obligation, the same performances were often used on more than one album; I think most of The Barbara Streisand Christmas Album ended up spread out over several Goodyear albums. Selections were also sometimes edited down or together from their original form in order to maximize the content. The last three albums were released through RCA on the RCA Special Products label. Of course, RCA was no stranger to the Christmas album/tire company biz: they issued Christmas album series for both Firestone and B F Goodrich through the sixties and early seventies.

The first three releases were available in mono only; the next three could be purchased in mono or stereo; and all subsequent were sold only in stereo. The RCA releases are definitely rarer than the Columbia releases and may not have been released as widely.

Although the bulk of the recordings used to make each LP were taken from existing Christmas albums by the individual artists, there were individual tracks that were commissioned especially for each album. It's a shame that, unlike CD releases of the separate artists' Christmas albums, many of these tracks will probably never be properly released. We can only hope that they are languishing in a vault somewhere and may turn up unexpectedly on one of those bargain bin collections that appear each year.

Since so many of us have memories of those albums which were most likely lost long ago to a garage sale, I'll try to note where those tracks are currently available on CD or as downloads from Amazon or iTunes.

As I've done my research, I've uncovered some "oddballs and tidbits" along the way in the Goodyear Christmas Album history. I'll share those as well, and input is most welcome.

This website is strictly a labor of love from one who grew up with these records being part & parcel of the Christmas season. Have a look, have a laugh, and maybe you'll even say, "Hey I remember that."

(Disclaimer: all information contained herein is based on my own research. Content is not affiliated with the Goodyear, Columbia/CBS/Sony, RCA/BMG, or any other corporation referenced. Clarifications, comments, and contrary evidence is welcome in the interest of making this reference material viable to any interested party.)