Christmas Songs: Stevie Wonder, “(That’s) What Christmas Means To Me (My Love)” 1967

This was a Motown-written song: Marvin Gaye‘s first wife and Berry Gordy‘s sister, Anna Gordy, co-wrote it along with Allen Story and her brother, George “Horgay” Gordy. Stevie was the first to record it on the Tamla label, Someday at Christmas in 1967.  This was his eighth studio album. Stevie Wonder, born Stevland Hardaway Judkins, was 17 years old, and had been a precocious veteran singer and musician for most of his young life.

As usual, before his big breakout albums of the Seventies, Stevie was backed up by The Funk Brothers, the line-up of mostly jazz musicians who virtually created the Motown Sound of Detroit, Michigan. Whenever you hear Stevie’s work after the Sixties, he not only brings his own genius, but what he also learned, synthesized and made his own from these men, of which only three of the 13 recognized musicians survive at this time.

As you might remember from Standing in the Shadows of Motown, the drummers were the ones who usually heralded any song by  Motown singers and groups, and in this case, it is the talented but doomed William “Benny” (or “Papa Zita”) Benjamin, who would be the first Funk Brother to die at 43.  The monumental bass genius James Jamerson is heard next.  Songwriter and record producer Henry Cosby also supervised this song, as he had for many of Stevie’s early hits.  Cosby is even considered an honorary Funk Brother, since he also played saxophone on most Motown hits.  Cosby (no relation to Bill) died in 2002 at the age of 73 from the effects of cardiac bypass surgery.

Here are Stevie’s lyrics as he sings them. Versions by Hanson and Jessica Simpson and others sometimes have variations. Enjoy.

Oh yeah…
Candles burnin’ low,
Lots of mistletoe.
Lots of snow and ice,
Everywhere we go.
Choirs singin’ carols,
Right outside my door.

All these things and more
(All these things and more)
That’s what Chrstmas means to me my love
(That’s what Christmas means to me my love)

Oh yeah,
Hy hy yeah eah eah

And ya know what I mean
I see your smilin’ face
Like I never seen before
Even though I love ya madly
It seems I love you more
And little cards you give me
Will touch my heart for sure

All these things and more, darling
(All these things and more)
That’s what Chrstmas means to me my love
(That’s what Christmas means to me my love)

Oh yeah ha ha!
I feel like runnin’ wild
As angels and a little child
Greet you neath the mistletoe
Kiss you once and then some more
And wish you a Merry Christmas, baby
(Wish you a Merry Christmas, baby)
And such happiness in the comin’ year
Oh baby

Let’s deck the halls with holly
Sing sweet silent night
Fill a tree with angel hair
And pretty, pretty lights
Go to sleep and wake up
Just before daylight

All these things and more, baby
(All these things and more)
That’s what Chrismas means to me my love
(That’s what Christmas means to me my love)
Oh baby baby!

Candles burnin’ low
Lots and lots of snow
Christmas bells are ringin’
Christmas choirs singin’
Christmas mistletoe…

~ by blksista on December 5, 2011.

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