While it includes some of the most iconic Christmas songs of the past 60 years — most notably Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) — if there was ever an album with a problematic history, it’s “A Christmas Gift for You From Phil Spector.”
Spector was the hottest producer in the world at the time of the album’s release, but it dropped on Nov. 22, 1963 — yes, the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Needless to say, the country was not really in the mood for Spector’s glorious Wall of Sound holiday masterpiece, and the album largely languished for the next several years (although the Beatles re-released it on their Apple label in the early 1970s).
Spector himself was just as problematic. A notoriously vindictive control freak and gun fanatic, he largely suppressed the career of Love — arguably the greatest singer he worked with during the era bar Tina Turner — by hiding her behind group names like the Blossoms (her original group), the Crystals (a totally different group whose name Spector sometimes credited Love-sung songs to), Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans and others. While his star fell in the early 1970s, he continued to work sporadically until the early 2000s, when he was convicted of murdering actress Lana Clarkson in 2003 and spent the remainder of his life in prison.
And yet, his music, and his beautiful, cursed Christmas album, have lived on despite its troubled history — and Love finally got a platinum disc for it at her “Love for the Holidays” concert at New York’s Town Hall last Thursday, presented by none other than longtime fan Bruce Springsteen. The occasion commemorated the 60th Anniversary of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” which was certified 3x platinum by the RIAA as of April 7, 2023.
Springsteen called Darlene “my forever crush” while singling out “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” as “the absolute greatest Christmas rock ‘n’ roll song of all time” and acknowledging “that song and Darlene have been a part of our holidays for 60 years.”
“When we recorded it, we had no idea it would be a song that people would play for over 60 years,” Love said in the announcement. “But it’s a great song. It’s something that had never been done before: It’s a great Christmas song and a rock ‘n roll Christmas song. I never get tired of singing it. And I never really get tired of singing it because I only do it at Christmas time.”