12 Days Until Christmas

Yesterday, I wrote about how Universal Music Group has been making animated videos for classic Christmas songs in its back catalog. Turns out UMG is not alone.

Rhino Records, which is now owned by Warner Music Group, just released an animated video for Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas.” I was tempted to save the song for closer to December 25, but when I realized “This Christmas” is fifty (!!!) years old this year, I figure we should get the anniversary party started now.

Hathaway’s hometown was Chicago and “This Christmas” was recorded there. If you look around the video, you can spot references to both Chicago landmarks and other Donny Hathaway songs. The video’s look was designed by cartoonist Lonnie Milsap who has a comic strip, “bacon,” and is often published in “The New Yorker.”

“This Christmas” was a modest hit when it came out in 1970, but got a big push when added to a re-release of a 1968 compilation album, “Soul Christmas.” “This Christmas” has since been covered by everyone from Chris Brown (for the 2007 film of the same name) to Aretha Franklin to John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John with Chick Corea.

I’ll close out with a live version of “This Christmas” performed by Donny’s daughters Lalah and Kenya. Lalah is a five-time Grammy winner. (Donny has two Grammys, including a posthumous Lifetime Achievement award in 2019.) Kenya, has worked as a coach and background singer on “American Idol.” Both daughters are animated in the video up top as little kids. Here they are, outside at New York’s Lincoln Center, singing a Christmas song in July of 2019. Lalah starts and Kenya takes the second verse.