Freddie Downs’ sixth book, “If That Isn’t Christmas, What Is?” is a brief history of what has shaped Christmas music. The former radio announcer started working on this topic in 2004, but wasn’t satisfied with his initial effort. He went on to write other books including another book about music called “Shake Outs of Rock & Roll.”
At the beginning of this year, Downs revisited his work and after changing his focus from listing the top 100 Christmas songs to writing about 30 important events in Christmas music history, he successfully completed his sixth book.
“If That Isn’t Christmas, What Is?” starts with the holiday standard “Silent Night” and works its way to modern day. He touches on everything musically Christmas from provincial carols to chart-topping pop hits.
Downs also writes about tangential events that effected the music like Tchaikovsky’s ballet “The Nutcracker” and Charles Shultz’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
Great artists who are permanently tied to the holiday season such as Gene Autry and Bing Crosby are also covered. The origin of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” created by Montgomery Ward copywriter Robert May in 1939, got recorded into a song by Gene Autry due to his wife’s pleading him to do it.
Downs also makes a foray into the comical side of the season with songs like “Grandma got ran over by a reindeer” and even some of the less successful attempts at Christmas music such as Los Del Rio’s 1996 flop “Macarena Christmas.” Downs’ concise 68-page book is filled with musical factoids for Christmas from beginning to end.
“If That Isn’t Christmas, What Is?” is published by William Kercher Books based out of Vancouver, Washington. Their website is www.williamkercherbooks.com
Freddie Downs’ books can also be found on Amazon.com
Mike Nickells writes about music for the Leavenworth Times.