Originally considered a country song and recorded by Ernest Tubb in 1948, "Blue Christmas" was written by Billy Hayes and Jay Johnson.
I first remember hearing Elvis' 1957 version just before the Christmas break back in 1958. It's very distinct in my mind. As far as I can remember, it's the first time I'd ever heard the song, or, at least, it was the first time I'd really listened to it. I was living in the dorm at Martin College and had already had my first date with Joyce in November at the Fall Dance right before Thanksgiving. We had talked several times in the Student Union or cafeteria since the dance and had seen each other regularly in German class. Although I had no car and almost no money, I thought I knew where I wanted our relationship to go. But things were moving slowly. They did in those days. Especially with PK's (preacher's kids). And there were rivals. One or two smart guys hung around her like sychophants to Cleopatra. And a basketball player from Indiana who had one of those Kirk Douglas chins. The Christmas break wasn't coming at a good time.
It was about 2:30 PM on a Friday and I had a ride to Nashville lined up with an older student, a fellow in his forties named Coke. Most of the other guys in the dorm had already left for home for the Christmas holidays, and the second floor was almost empty. Mr. Coke (I addressed him as Mr.; if you were raised in the South during that time you know why) would be picking me up around 3 PM, so I'd showered and was putting on my clothes while listening to the radio. The small town DJ intoduced the holiday song by Elvis and I lay down on the bed and listened.
The lyrics hit me right between the eyes. It really would be a blue Christmas. She would be in a little town near the Tennessee/Alabama line and I would be in Nashville. A hundred miles in those days might as well have been a thousand.
Elvis Presley lyrics - Blue Christmas lyrics
I've probably heard "Blue Christmas" over a hundred times now, but every time I hear the song, I still remember that first time I heard it and get "a knot in my throat," as my Mom used to say. It's funny how music can do that, even a simple rock/pop song by a long gone pop icon like Elvis.
This version of "Blue Christmas" is from Elvis' comeback TV special in 1968.