From one of the best websites on the net — Pitchfork — comes a short history of the now famous A Charlie Brown Christmas television special, originally aired on CBS in December of 1965 with, according to writer Ron Hart, “a surprising amount of controversy.”
Hart writes that “much of the crew fretted over the quality of the product, which was completed just 10 days shy of its air date. [Director Bill] Melendez was said to be embarrassed of the final cut, while executives fretted over the cartoon’s darker themes of depression, anxiety, alienation, secularism and, perhaps above all, the sharp criticism it expressed about the commercialization of the season.” And…regarding pianist Vince Guaraldi’s now gloried soundtrack, the CBS “network suits expecting some Burl Ives-type maximalism, Guaraldi’s quaint score was deemed too weird and dark.”
The Pitchfork feature also includes thoughts and memories of A Charlie Brown Christmas by several contemporary musicians, including the brilliant saxophonist Kamasi Washington, who shared this with Hart:
“The song “Leroy and Lanisha” on my album The Epic is really my homage to ‘Linus and Lucy’. I love Vince Guaraldi, and I love how they addressed the issues of society through these kids in the special, and the way they made that band with Schroeder and Pigpen on stand-up bass, and all the kids with their funny dances. That was my favorite cartoon growing up.”
You can read Hart’s excellent piece on the film (originally published on December 3, 2015) by clicking here.