“I’ll Be Home For Christmas” Royalties Benefit St. Lawrence | St. Lawrence University

“I’ll Be Home For Christmas” Royalties Benefit St. Lawrence

One of the season’s most beloved Christmas songs gives back to St. Lawrence University each and every time it gets aired commercially.

J. Kimball “Kim” Gannon, who graduated from St. Lawrence in 1924, composed “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” along with Walter Kent and Buck Ram. Bing Crosby first recorded the song in 1943 for Decca Records, and the song became a top-10 hit during the mid-1940s, as Americans were in the midst of World War II. The song touched a tender place in the hearts of Americans, both soldiers and civilians, and it earned Crosby his fifth gold record.

Gannon went on to write a number of popular songs during the swing era. He also penned St. Lawrence’s alma mater, popularly known as “The Scarlet And The Brown,” which campus lore says he wrote in the fall of his senior year on his landlady’s piano.

When he died in 1974, his will stipulated that St. Lawrence would receive 30 percent of the royalties from his compositions after his wife’s death. His widow, Norma Allen Gannon, St. Lawrence Class of 1925, passed away in 2000.

The University now receives a monthly check (and will, for the next 40 or so years), representing the royalties paid each time one of Gannon’s songs is performed, used in a movie or television program, or even when one is played on an airplane’s sound system. This year alone, Gannon’s music has earned St. Lawrence University nearly $28,300. Since September 2000, St. Lawrence has received more than $407,100 in royalties.

Since its 1943 debut, more than 250 artists and groups have recorded “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” including Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams, Ann Murray, Michael Bublé and Amy Grant, whose 2010 recording became the 10th most played holiday song that year, according to American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), being played a total of 20,478 times.

On Dec. 17, 1965, a NASA transmitter asked astronauts James Lovell and Frank Borman, who were aboard Gemini 7 setting a record number of orbits around earth, if they’d like to hear any music. Their reply was a request for “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.”

Gannon’s other popular songs include big-band standards “Moonlight Cocktail,” recorded in 1942 by Glenn Miller; “A Dreamer’s Holiday,” recorded in 1949 by Perry Como; and “I Understand,” recorded at different times by Nat King Cole, Dave Brubeck and Jimmy Dorsey.

Listen to the Laurentian Singers perform “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.”