How Vince Guaraldi’s seriously swingin' "Linus & Lucy" became a Christmas classic

Originally published at:


“[Guaraldi] was a very intense piano player — he completely committed himself to his solos. He was playing an upward series of arpeggios, and played himself right off the end of the piano bench on to the floor, got up as if nothing had happened, and went back to work, finished the piece.

“Later, I talked to Tjader about that, and he said, ‘Yea, he’s done that before.’ ” It was that commitment to the music, and his natural gift for beautiful melodicism, that distinguished Guaraldi.

Uh…no. That’s called a sense of humor.

Seriously, the author of that piece actually believes a professional piano player forgot he was at the end of the piano and fell off the stool. Because the only thing keeping you on the stool is the pressure of your fingers on the keys, obviously.


This was the first piece of music that I “discovered” on my own, without having somone recommend it to me. The next year I was ready: I had a tape recorder by the TV and caught a crappy monaural dub of it, that included the sounds of a younger relative commenting on the action, and me shushing them… and I enjoyed that tape for years.


I saw the special for the first time either in 1965 or the next year. So at 6 or 7. It always meant Christmas.

Then I got the CD about fifteen years ago. Away from the animation, the song has nothing to do with Christmas. It’s just a good jazz instrumental. But it can never not invoke Christmas.

For many of us it was probably tye first jazz we heard.


I’ve always loved all that Peanuts music ever since I was a kid. One of my favorite CDs is the Happy Anniversary Charlie Brown! album where they re-recorded all the best songs from the holiday classics with some of the best jazz musicians around.

1 Like

That, and/or Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood


This is one more f my top 5 albums of all time. I listen to it year round. It’s absolutely incredible.

Perhaps his biggest non-Peanuts hit; listen carefully and you’ll hear a bit of this and that that made their way into the Peanuts score. This tune carries so much of Vince’s musical character:


This just showed up at the CBC, the drummer in the trio

1 Like

The statement “Carl Stalling did compose tremendously complex and brilliant music for cartoons, but his scores for Warner Brothers’ cartoons were orchestral scores, and all classically oriented” is so manifestly untrue that I wasn’t able to continue reading the article.


Yeah, unless I somehow missed that “A Cup of Coffee, A Sandwich, And You” was composed by Richard Wagner.


LOL, Beethoven’s famous “The Merry Go Round Broke Down”.


It’s a sweet tune. I really like Kamasi Washington’s tribute Leroy and Lanisha, too.

Speaking of classics, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, when you need the perfect tune for contemplating where you’ve ended up in life whilst nursing a Scotch in a quiet, lonely bar, you can’t do better than Christmas Time Is Here (Instrumental)

1 Like

Me too. I have a soft spot for Raymond Scott though.

1 Like
1 Like

Yeah, Powerhouse, the tune used almost every time you see a production line/factory in a cartoon is so obviously jazzy that I cannot understand where that author was coming from. Outside of the Raymond Scott Quintette tunes the other main influences are silent movie soundtracks (Stalling was a Chicago theatre organist) which were of course influenced by the practice of live theatre and in particular vaudeville / music hall.

1 Like

I also enjoy that CD. It is more than compensated by the likes of Corea’s “The Great Pumpkin Waltz”, but the version of “Linus & Lucy” is just kind of weird.

I approve much more readily of the rendition provided by Wynton Marsalis:

He comes to town on tour almost every December. It’s good to hear the plague hasn’t gotten to him in the meantime.

Little Birdie with Vince himself singing is the best…