My tribute to Andy Williams

by Andrea Elizabeth

From an old blog

Friday, November 19, 2004

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

When I was four till about six years old, my brother and I had two records that we played over and over, completely absorbed in the quality of sound and the contents. Sterling Holloway reading Rudyard Kipling’s “The Elephant’s Child”, oh best beloved, and Andy Williams with his brothers singing on his Christmas Album. I remember everything about these albums. From the cartoony cover of the Sterlingish elephant’s child, to the smiling faces of each Williams brother encircled in their own glass Christmas ornaments on the tree. These were the first icons which I adored. Unfortunately these albums got lost in some move a long time ago.

Last week I finally went to see Mr. Williams at his Moon River Theater in Branson, Missouri, with my family. He must be in his 70’s by now, so I expected him to lip sinc through the show. He performs twice a day every day, so how can anyone expect him to belt it out for each performance? He appeared a little feeble as he descended from the sleigh they brought him in on, and my heart skipped as he stumbled down the step. But then his Jingle Bells were as clear as ever. My admiration and love for this man grew as the show went on, and he seemed to gain strength physically and vocally. For two hours he sang, talked, and even danced a little. At one point he asked the kids to come up on stage. Five of my six made there way up through the almost completely senior crowd to sit at his feet while he lead them in Rudolph. My 11 year old, unmusical boy surprised us by singing on key when Mr. Williams put the microphone in front of him, and told us later that the words were projected on the floor. He joked with them about their height and their bass voices, saying “Here, I bet you need a candy cane,” as he held the basket towards my 13-16 year old boys. Then he movingly sang “Do you see what I see” for them before he let them go. I thrilled to hold my three year old in my lap after she had touched a candy cane that was held in a basket by Andy Williams!

Andy Williams has also been an icon of Christmas to many Americans over the past 40 years. The love which shines through his strong and multi-octave ranged voice can only come from communion with the One who is Love, in my opinion. The main focus of his show is on the Christ child, not Santa Clause, though there were of course many light, and even some baudy moments. This love and intensity in his beautiful voice is what has touched me since I was a child, and is evident in all of his love songs, be they Christmas or “secular”. Being in the audience reconnected me to my childhood, and made me feel that in some way he helped parent me. Love is contagious, and I feel that Mr. Holloway, and Mr. Williams generously injected their unique expressions in my heart very early. Not that I inherited their quality, but I know, recognize, and love it in them, and am spoiled for anything less.