"Blue Christmas" is a Christmas song written by Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson. It is a tale of unrequited love during the holidays and is a longstanding staple of Christmas music, especially in the country genre.
The song was first recorded by Doye O'Dell in 1948, and was popularized the following year in three separate recordings: one by country artist Ernest Tubb; one by bandleader Hugo Winterhalter and his orchestra; and one by bandleader Russ Morgan and his orchestra (the latter featuring lead vocals by Morgan and backing vocals by singers credited as the Morganaires). Tubb's version spent the first week of January 1950 at No. 1 on Billboard magazine's Most-Played Juke Box (Country & Western) Records chart, while Winterhalter's version peaked at No. 9 on Billboard's Records Most Played by Disk Jockeys chart and Morgan's version reached No. 11 on Billboard's Best-Selling Pop Singles chart. Also in 1950 Hugo Winterhalter released a new version, this time sung by Billy Eckstine, with shortened lyrics in a variation close to what is now the common standard for this song.
The Beach Boys' version reached No. 3 on the U.S. Christmas charts but did not chart in the U.K.
Following the success of Presley's version, the song has been recorded by a host of rock and country artists, as well as some working in other genres, with over sixty-five recorded versions:
In 1999, Mary Margaret O'Hara (sister of actress Catherine O'Hara) released The Christmas E.P., featuring a slow, bluesy version of the song, with strong support from Hugh Marsh (violin), Rusty McCarthy (guitar), David Piltch (bass), Don Rooke (lap-steel), and Michael Sloski (drums).
Bruce Springsteen sang the song live at The Carousel in Asbury Park, New Jersey on December 7, 2010 with the E Street Band. The intimate concert, in front of approximately 60 fans, was Clarence Clemons' last performance with the E Street Band. The performance of the song "Blue Christmas" was then included in the bonus part of the Bruce Springsteen DVD The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town in 2011 with four other tracks from the concert.
A 2011 version of the song recorded by Michael Bublé was included on his holiday album Christmas. Capitalizing on the blues influence of earlier covers, the Bublé recording applies the fire of traditional New Orleans polyphonic jazz and a larger big band sound.