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10 Facts About Your Favorite Christmas Carols

By Glen Gower, @XmasCarolFacts

Every year on Christmas Eve, families gather around the piano and sing carols. Some of these little ditties date back centuries, and the stories behind them are fascinating. I thought it would be fun to collect some of my favorite Christmas music facts and publish them on Twitter. Here are just a few of my favorites.

1. Felix Mendelssohn composed the tune to "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" as a tribute to printer/inventor Johann Gutenberg.
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2. Dick Smith wrote the words for "Winter Wonderland" while recovering from tuberculosis in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
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3. Australians have their own version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" where all of the animals are replaced by wildlife from down under.

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4. "Do You Hear What I Hear" was inspired by the Cuban Missile Crisis.
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5. "O Holy Night" was the second piece of music to ever be broadcast on radio, in 1906.
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6. In "Up on the Housetop," Santa brings one of the kids a hammer and tacks. Another child gets a whip.
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7. Elvis recorded "White Christmas" in 1957. Composer Irving Berlin tried to get it banned from the radio.
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8. Gemini 7 astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell asked to have "I'll Be Home For Christmas" played for them while they were in orbit in 1965.
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9. The original lyric for "Silver Bells" was actually "Tinkle Bells," inspired by a tiny bell on the desk of composers Livingston and Evans.
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10. The Grand Hotel from "It's Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas" is believed to be in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

When I'm not practicing Christmas music on the piano, I'm an Ottawa-based writer and producer. You can follow me on Twitter the rest of the year @glengower.

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Everything You Need to Know About Record Store Day
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iStock

The unlikely resurgence of vinyl as an alternative to digital music formats is made up of more than just a small subculture of purists. Today, more than 1400 independent record stores deal in both vintage and current releases. Those store owners and community supporters created Record Store Day in 2007 as a way of celebrating the grassroots movement that’s allowed a once-dying medium to thrive.

To commemorate this year’s Record Store Day on Saturday, April 21, a number of stores (a searchable list can be found here) will be offering promotional items, live music, signings, and more. While events vary widely by store, a number of artists will be issuing exclusive LPs that will be distributed around the country.

For Grateful Dead fans, a live recording of a February 27, 1969 show at Fillmore West in San Francisco will be released and limited to 6700 copies; Arcade Fire’s 2003 EP album will see a vinyl release for the first time, limited to 3000 copies; "Roxanne," the Police single celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, will see a 7-inch single release with the original jacket art.

The day also promises to be a big one for David Bowie fans. A special white vinyl version of 1977’s Bowie Now will be on shelves, along with Welcome to the Blackout (Live London ’78), a previously-unreleased, three-record set. Jimmy Page, Frank Zappa, Neil Young, and dozens of other artists will also be contributing releases.

No store is likely to carry everything you might want, so before making the stop, it might be best to call ahead and then plan on getting there early. If you’re one of the unlucky vinyl supporters without a brick and mortar store nearby, you can check out Discogs.com, which will be selling the special releases online.

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Pop Culture
Jim Henson's Labyrinth Is Being Adapted Into a Stage Musical
Henson Company
Henson Company

More than 30 years after its cinematic debut, Labyrinth could be hitting the stage. In an interview with Forbes, Jim Henson's son and Henson Company CEO Brian Henson shared plans to transform the cult classic into a live musical.

While the new musical would be missing David Bowie in his starring role as Jareth the Goblin King, it would hopefully feature the soundtrack Bowie helped write. Brian Henson says there isn't a set timeline for the project yet, but the stage adaptation of the original film is already in the works.

As for a location, Henson told Forbes he envisions it running, "Not necessarily [on] Broadway, it could be for London's West End, but it will be a stage show, a big theatrical version. It’s very exciting."

Labyrinth premiered in 1986 to measly box office earnings and tepid reviews, but Jim Henson's fairytale has since grown into a phenomenon beloved by nostalgic '80s kids and younger generations alike. In the same Forbes interview, Brian Henson also confirmed the 2017 news that a long-anticipated Labyrinth sequel is apparently in development. Though he couldn't give any specifics, Henson confirmed that, "we are still excited about it but the process moves very slowly and very carefully. We're still excited about the idea of a sequel, we are working on something, but nothing that's close enough to say it's about to be in pre-production or anything like that."

While fans eagerly await those projects to come out, they can get their fix when the film returns to theaters across the U.S. on April 29, May 1, and May 2. Don't forget to wear your best Labyrinth swag to the event.

[h/t Forbes]

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