Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmastime: Christmas Island

Leon Redbone: Christmas Island


Maybe visiting Star Maker Machine will help somebody win a trivia contest one day. Consider Lyle Moraine. Moraine was a film actor who appeared in over forty films from 1936 to 1975. But you don’t know his name. The vast majority of his appearances were uncredited. His best known film was probably Vertigo, but again, his appearance did not even warrant a listing in the titles. Moraine also wrote a song once, and that is possibly his best claim to fame. The song, Christmas Island, was a hit for The Andrews Sisters in 1946. There were a flurry of cover versions for about the next ten years, and then silence descended. In 1987, Leon Redbone rescued the song, and made it the title track of his holiday album. Since then, there has been another flurry of cover versions. Jimmy Buffet also made the song the title track of a holiday album. I can find no trace of any other song that Lyle Moraine may have written.

Thankfully, Leon Redbone, while not exactly a household name, is far better known. Redbone has made a career of rescuing old songs. He plays guitar in a style that shows a ragtime influence, and sings in what I would call a warm bass growl. His love of his material is obvious in everything he performs. His Christmas Island is no exception.

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