The Story of How Bing Crosby and David Bowie Came to Make Beautiful Harmony *UPDATED
It seems I have been missing a wonderful holiday tradition. I just discovered the unlikely pairing of Bing Crosby and David Bowie singing Little Drummer Boy–Peace on Earth. It works charmingly. The scene opens with some gentle deprecating banter between the two. Bowie mistakes Crosby for the new butler, and their little get-to-know-you chat leads them to the realization they both sing.
The duet almost didn’t happen, as Bowie rejected performing the Little Drummer Boy. He said he hated that song and was only doing the show because his mother loves Bing Crosby. Producers huddled and frantically reworked the piece, giving Bowie a counter melody Peace on Earth to compliment Crosby’s traditional rendering. Bowie liked that.
There was other give and take and mutual adjustment beyond just the music. In 2004, Crosby’s daughter recounted to the Associated Press the awkward initial moments after Bowie and his wife arrived on the set wearing full length mink coats and bright red hair and makeup, including lipstick. Producers prevailed upon Bowie to tone down his colorful appearance. The two performers felt each other out, and sensed the bond of shared musical talent, and sort of relaxed. A classic scene was born. Enjoy.
UPDATE: Will Farrell and John C. Reilly perform a tribute reenactment. Who knew they each had such nice voices? Anyway, they play the scene straight, except for a little punchline at the end…