‘Tis the season to complain about how many times you’ve heard “Last Christmas” or “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” For whatever reason, it’s fashionable to crap all over any addition to the Christmas Carol Canon (“CCC” as we’ve just coined it) after the 1950s. And don’t even get us started on the level of shade people throw at “Wonderful Christmas Time,” which does kind of suck until you realize it’s about a witchcraft and then you never tire of hearing it again.
One carol that everyone adores is “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” the Bing Crosby classic covered by roughly four million artists. It turns out that the beloved song sprang from the mind of Albany Law School graduate James Kimball Gannon… and the school only figured this out relatively recently.
A legendary songwriter, nominated for three Academy Awards and boasting roughly 200 popular song credits, Gannon’s days as a law school student didn’t come up much. The Times-Union has the full story:
But the connection between Gannon and, by extension, his famous song to Albany Law School was all but unknown until the school’s Government and Law Center, which has a large archive of old newspaper clippings, tweeted about it last week. The news quickly piqued interest, explained Ben Meyers, the law’s school’s associate director of communications and marketing, told Law Beat.
Even at Albany, Gannon seemed destined to do “anything but law” on the back-end. He hosted a radio show under a pseudonym the whole time he should’ve been outlining:
“The crooning counsellor. Broadcasts from WGY at night and from the smoking room between classes. Writes most of his own songs and probably most of the phony fan mail he shows us. Give ‘Kim’ time and he will have all the laws set to music. Member of the Back Row Brief Snatching Club. Every afternoon he buzzes back to Ballston and runs a law office and in the evening is a dutiful husband. Known to the radio audience as ‘Johnny Albright’ but known to us as one of the most popular men in ‘33. How about that turkey, ‘Kim?
He passed the bar and practiced for five years before going all in on the music world, writing tunes for the likes of Crosby and Glenn Miller, though it’s “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” that dominates his legacy.
“Christmas is the holiday in the title, but the message of rejoining loved ones at home and celebrating one another is universal, Meyers told Law Beat. “We can all embrace that. It is certainly a thankful time of year and, even though we lost track of this, we are thankful to have re-discovered his connection to the law school.”
The one thing the story doesn’t clarify: Where did Gannon stand on the “count” vs. “plan” debate? Because if you’ve never noticed it, half the renditions of this song go off the rails in the second line.
And like the Witches’ Sabbath, that’s another thing that, once you notice it, you’ll never unnotice it.