The easiest place for a holiday tune to get lost is for it to appear on a non-holiday album. That was the original fate of the December 3 Christmas Song of the Day, a wonderful composition by Carly Simon.
Its first appearance was on the soundtrack to the 1992 movie This Is My Life, which starred Julie Kavner, Carrie Fisher and Dan Aykroyd and marked the directing debut of Nora Ephron. Simon wrote the soundtrack to the film, which was released on Quincy Jones’ Qwest label and didn’t chart. One of the songs from the CD, “Love of My Life,” made the top 20 of the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. Though Simon’s seasonal tune was serviced to radio for Christmas of 1992, it didn’t get a lot of attention then.
Two years later, Ephron directed an actual Christmas movie called Mixed Nuts, which was a box-office bomb with reviews that, if anything, were even worse. But Ephron chose to use Simon’s lost Christmas song in the film, and it also appeared on the soundtrack CD. This time, the song began to get more attention. It’s appeared on many compilations since 1994, and it gets some airplay on Christmas radio – enough that it’s not forgotten, but not so much that it wears out its welcome.
Starting with a short snippet of “Good King Wenceslas,” it goes into a lyric about Christmas and the magic of the season and ends with Simon singing the first several lines of “A Visit from St. Nicholas” as the song fades out. Appropriately, the song is called “The Night Before Christmas.” And you don’t have to be a child to love the mystery.