Get To Know David Benoit-Composer And Pianist For Peanuts! #CBXmas @Snoopy #Giveaway #Partner

50thonTV_BADGE disclosure     Many people who have been fans of the Peanuts specials over the years also loved the music that accompanied these timeless shows.  The man behind many of these melodies is David Benoit, the renowned American jazz pianist, composer and producer.  Nominated for three Grammy Awards, over 25 of his albums since 1980 have made the charts and thrilled jazz audiences all over the world.

    As a Peanuts Ambassador, I was given the distinct pleasure of interviewing David Benoit to learn all about how his passion for Peanuts and the Peanuts music began many years ago.  You see, when he was a kid, his family sat around the television during the holidays to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas just as our family has done for decades.

    One of the things that I really enjoyed learning about David Benoit is that he loved the fact that the Peanuts specials maintained the true meaning of Christmas.  He feels that, despite the fact that Christmas has become such a commercial holiday, the message in these specials aimed at preserving the simple and heartwarming origins of this special holiday.

10177526_10152411406637058_6118482475542317051_n

Here is the rest of my interview with David Benoit:

When did your passion for Peanuts and the Peanuts music begin?

When I started reading strip at 8 years old; this was in the ’60s. I followed it very closely every day. Then I watched A Charlie Brown Christmas—we all gathered around the TV to watch it. It’s been a lifelong thing.

What was it about music and the brand that appealed to you so much?

Well, it was Charlie Brown and he was a loser! He was depressed a lot, and I was having a childhood like that myself [laughs]. I related to him, and felt I had a kindred spirit out there. Then the music was jazz and piano and upbeat and fun—I got hooked on it right away.

Were you playing piano then?

Just starting to get into it.

What was your favorite piece of Peanuts music?

Of course, Linus and Lucy is the most popular one. I like Christmastime Is Here, that’s still one of my all-time favorites. Another one I like wasn’t written for Charlie Brown Christmas, it was written for a documentary on Charles Schulz—it’s a piece called Pebble Beach. A lot of hardcore fans will know that one.

What is it about A Charlie Brown Christmas and its music—what would the special be like without the music?

It wouldn’t have quite the same charm and appeal. It’s a perfect marriage. You can’t imagine one without the other. It must have been fate that brought Vince Guaraldi to Lee Mendelson. I know from writing original music for Peanuts, Vince Guaraldi was always the reference point.

So you feel jazz is the right genre for Peanuts music?

I do. The kids are very sophisticated, their emotions, their vocabulary. Peanuts was one of first strips to do that—to have kids speaking intelligently, expressing deep emotions. Jazz, because of its sophistication, seemed to work very well. After Vince Guaraldi died, they tried using other composers; many of them, like Judy Munson, were very good. But she approached it from traditional cartoon composing, and it wasn’t the same. Upbeat jazz just hit a spark. They were looking for another jazz pianist to start writing music, that’s how they found me.

What makes the Linus and Lucy theme so memorable?

It’s one of those immediately recognizable motifs—you’ve got the left hand movement, then the right hand comes in, and it’s highly syncopated. It just gets everybody happy. The power of music.

Why has the special remained so beloved?

It might be the simplicity in its message, that Christmas has become so commercial. It’s so simple and heartfelt. It has the makings of a classic because it’s so simple and so heartwarming.

Can you elaborate on your professional connection to Peanuts and how that came about?

I had recorded Linus and Lucy on a record called This Side Up. At that time, no one had ever covered it. I did it, then it opened up a new group of fans. I also recorded Christmastime Is Here on an album called Christmastime. Lee Mendelson’s wife, Debbie, said, “Lee, you should check out David Benoit.” And he and I hit it off.

It was one of those magical relationships that really worked. They were trying out several other jazz musicians, Dave Grusin, Dave Brubeck, George Winston, Wynton Marsalis, and me. We just clicked. Not long after that I became the official composer, but it wasn’t official until I met Sparky. That’s what you called Mr. Schulz because that’s what he asked you to call him. But it took me a while to get used to that!

Do you ever worry you won’t be taken seriously for associating with Peanuts?

Not really. I’ll tell you what I worry more about: When I started early on getting into the business of playing jazz that was happy, it got the moniker “smooth jazz.” Now that’s become the butt of a lot of jokes, like, “If the machines broke, you couldn’t make smooth jazz.”

I worry more about that than I do about doing Charlie Brown music. There seems to be a certain reverence for Vince Guaraldi—there’s a respect. You just don’t mess with it. To me, it’s very honorable. The most common compliment I get is, “Oh, you wrote the Peanuts theme” or “You wrote Linus and Lucy.” I say, “No, that would be Vince Guaraldi.” But I’m honored. It’s totally a positive thing for me.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on my first all-vocal album. We’re talking with an artist named Jane Monheit, getting the songs ready for that. I’m getting ready to do a tour of The Music of Charlie Brown, starting in December and going all across the country. You can find the dates and cities on my website, benoit.com.

Do you still watch the specials and listen for the music?

I’m often traveling, and I don’t make it a point to watch them. Usually when the Christmas one comes on, we try to watch as a family.

Who is your favorite Peanuts character?

It’s Charlie Brown. However, I think Schroeder would have to be a close second! That would tell the whole story about me. I like Snoopy, but I’m not hip enough, not quite that cool.

For the Christmas tribute to Charlie Brown, how do you decide what songs to play, and how long is the set?

It’s about an hour and a half. Many songs come from that show, but we also play a few traditional Christmas songs. And I play a few of my own compositions for audience to hear the other side of me. There’s a pretty good variety of stuff. It’s a fun show.

    It was such a treat to get so much insight into the man who composed the soundtracks of many of the Peanuts specials.  As David Benoit, himself acknowledged, the specials would not have been the same without the heartwarming soundtracks attached to them.  They are sounds and melodies that many of us will treasure for generations to come.

Let’s Discuss:  What do you remember about watching the Peanuts specials when you were a kid?

GIVEAWAY:

1424313_10152411482567058_2029110678634581011_n

Make your holiday home even more adorable with one of these miniature Peanuts ornaments. (Product selection subject to availability.)

Our Sponsor is giving away a Charlie Brown Prize Pack containing a Great Pumpkin-Themed Nail Polish Set from O.P.I., a Miniature Peanuts Ornament (Product selection subject to availability and chosen at random), and a 40 Years of a Charlie Brown Christmas CD.a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This post is part of a blogging campaign as a Peanuts 50 Years on TV Brand Ambassador. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

© 2014, Tough Cookie Mommy. All rights reserved.

Comments

  1. Some of my favorite memories of watching the Peanuts specials are of of my family gathered around to watch them. We would put it on our calendar so we wouldn’t forget.

  2. lori clark says:

    when I was a kid, families did things together, there were no cell phones, computers, etc. Watching the peanuts was something we did together every year!

  3. Robin Rue says:

    The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown is my favorite cartoon of all time. I remember being able to stay up late when it came on and I thought that was such a big deal!

  4. The most special moment was watching the Christmas Peanuts Special and then seeing my sister perform at our school .. she was Lucy!

  5. I actually have the Charlie Brown Christmas and Thanksgiving that I watch every year with the kids. Those are classics and I just love Snoopy.

  6. Cinderella10383 says:

    My sister and I would always make sure we had everything done before the Charlie Brown special came on and we’d be parked in front of the tv 5 mins before the start time

  7. agordon10 says:

    I still have them. My kids and I still watch all the holiday specials every year together.

  8. we have the dvds but still watch on television like I did as a kid. This is such an interesting the behind the tv show interview. Love it!

  9. Awww, I always loved watching this on tv every year…we would circle it in the TV guide to make sure. My little one enjoys it now too!

  10. Erin Murphy says:

    My family and I watched the the peanuts for every holiday! I loved watching them as a kid.

  11. Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell says:

    His favorite is my favorite too. Now I want to watch the video to hear it again!

  12. Holiday movies are the best, the holo you can’t beat holiday movies! I’m so ready for Hallmark Christmas movies starting on Saturday! Charlie Brown specials are iconic – I can’t wait to share them with my kiddos this year!

  13. When we were kids, there was no cable tv or vcr tapes. We waited each holiday for Charlie Brown to be on tv, and would all watch it together.

  14. What a great interview! How cool to interview an icon like David Benoit! I have many fond memories of The Peanuts gang growing up from watching all the holiday shows to reading the comics. Always a joy!

  15. Meagan Bailiff says:

    i loved watching them every year and i always try to catch them with my daughter now.

  16. Trisha Kilpatrick says:

    I loved their holiday specials. I would look forward to the Great Pumpkin special and the Christmas special every year.

  17. Jennifer Williams says:

    I love watching these with my kids, we always grab a snack and enjoy family movie time when the Peanuts specials come on

  18. Melissa Smith says:

    How awesome that you got to interview David Benoit! Even now when I think back to watching them when I was younger, I can hear the music in my head.

  19. I remember watching the Charlie Brown christmas special every christmas eve in my pajamas.

  20. Heavens-who doesn’t like those Charlie Brown Specials in TV. Great interview with a GREAT jazz musician (yes I am a fan of jazz)

  21. I remember it snowing outside and watching Charlie Brown with my sister growing up. The music is always great. Linus and Lucy is my favorite.

  22. Yep, I totally remember watching. And my son is now old enough to start watching them this year also.

  23. I remember we scheduled our actives around the special showing. It wasn’t quite Christmas unless we watched these shows. They continue to be my favorite. I love watching them with my kids.

  24. Rebecca Bryant says:

    I always remeber getting to stay up pass bedtime to watch these specials.

  25. Farrah AFM says:

    We are watching Charlie Brown on Amazon Instant Video right now! These specials are a family tradition for us.

  26. Terry My Journey With Candida says:

    I now have a Snoopy song playing in my head. It is one that was played on a piano. My Daughter used to love watching the Great Pumpkin

  27. Peanuts is amazing – I can’t believe how long it has been going, it’s one of those shows that never seems to get old. x

  28. Peanuts brings back memories from not only when I was a kid in the 60s but also watching the specials with my own kids. It was such a family time and I too remember the whole family sitting around the black and white watching it way back when. Great interview!

  29. It’s not a holiday without some sort of Charlie brown movie. I love the Great Pumpkin story.

  30. paulaschuck says:

    This music is lovely what a pleasure to read this interview. I grew up watching this every Christmas. There’s a certain nostalgia that brings just reading this post. Thank you!

  31. It’s not the holidays without Charlie Brown and Snoopy even if I am the only one in my house that watches it!

  32. Veronica Solomon says:

    I remember watching Peanuts Christmas specials when I was a kid. Those are the good old days. I can’t believe it’s been 50 years

  33. I remember sitting down with my cousins and watching the Peanuts holiday shows. It was a family tradition!

  34. Cassandra Eastman says:

    I remember watching A Charlie Brown Christmas every single year, it became a tradition. I’m happy to share the tradition with my own children now! We always look forward to watching it together 🙂

  35. Lauren Harmon says:

    Every year on Christmas Eve at my Grandma’s house we would make cookies and then eat a couple while watching Charlie Brown’s Christmas Special!

  36. I have known peanuts eversince and I can’t believe I had no idea of their composer, lol…

  37. I love watching the specials every year. Compared to what’s on now, it’s hard to compete. The kids don’t get it. Funny that Mr. Benoit felt Charlie was a loser. I guess he was, but I never thought of him that way growing up.

  38. We always watched Charlie Brown on Halloween, Christmas, and New Year’s! We love the cartoons and the message in each.

  39. Chrystal M. says:

    We are huge fans of Peanuts. A few years ago our local museum had a Charles Schultz exhibit. It was really fun to see and learn so much about Peanut; where they came from and how they changed over the years.

  40. My favorite memories was watching the Peanuts gang at my grandparents house around the holidays. It was a tradition!

  41. April @ Everyday Fitness and N says:

    What a great interview! I also love that the Peanuts Christmas show maintains the meaning of Christmas. Maybe that’s what makes them such a timeless classic.

  42. mail4rosey says:

    I remember the excitement when the Christmas special would come on TV. That totally meant it really was Christmas time. Everything’s on DVD now so it’s not the same (for my kids) but they’re still fun to watch. 🙂

  43. Charlie Brown is my favorite holiday tradition. Love the Great Pumpkin! Amber N

  44. latanya t says:

    I liked watching their holiday specials on tv. I really liked their Christmas special.

  45. Sharon Schoepe says:

    I remember that we would look forward to the Charlie Brown Christmas. It wasn’t officially Christmas until we had seen it

  46. traceyj40 says:

    Just sitting down with my dad watching the movie and eating popcorn

  47. Leigh Anne Borders says:

    Memories of gathering with the family when I was younger to watch the Charlie Brown specials.

  48. For me, the charlie brown movie reminds me of christmas celebrations with my sisters and brothers as a child.

  49. Brandy Y. says:

    We always watched the Christmas special. My sister and I would gather in the living room. A nice memory of us at Christmas time growing up.

  50. I remember my mom making me hot chocolate with a cinnamon stick, taking over the tv from my dad and making him watch the Charlie Brown specials with me.

  51. Kristin Hale says:

    I remember watching all of the Snoopy Cartoons during Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. They were on during dinner time and we would gather around the TV and watch

  52. blarneykiss says:

    I have enjoyed watching all the Charlie Brown shows for many years. It is always great fun to watch Charlie, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy and all the gang work together and play together. My Grandchildren now watch with me. The music score makes you want to get up and on your feet and move.

  53. The innocence of being a child watching Charlie Brown and the peanuts gang. The wonder of the season and trying to get into the warm feelings of long ago! It was always A magical time of year! Merry Christmas Charlie Brown!

  54. Hollie Jahnke says:

    We watched every special Charlie Brown had and we always had a big bowl of popcorn.

  55. morgan k wyatt says:

    The music from the Peanuts special is so evocative, Whenever, I hear it, I stop and smile remembering my delight at the first and subsequent viewings.

  56. Saving Common Cents says:

    I loved watching Charlie Brown tv specials growing up! It was definitely a tradition my siblings and I looked forward to. Somehow, it really meant that the holiday was just about here and we were always so excited! Now I get to share that “tradition” with my litle girls!

  57. Shawn Andree says:

    I remember watching all of the Charlie Brown specials through out the year, but loved the Christmas one the best. Snoopy is my favorite of all the peanuts characters.

  58. Tiffany medeiros says:

    Every year I would watch A Charlie Brown Christmas and we still do today. It is definitely a family tradition.

  59. Joni Dolniak says:

    I remember as a kid waiting every holiday for a Charlie Brown Special. My mom would always make us chestnuts or pudding.

  60. lazybones344 says:

    I looked forward to the specials during every holiday. I watched them year after year and now my kids do too.

  61. The Peanuts specials were indeed special when I was a kid. We were treated to popcorn during the shows, and it was always fun. Snoopy was my favorite then, and he still is today!

  62. I remember watching the Peanuts specials with my three cousins when we were young. I’m 40 and still look forward to the holiday specials now!

  63. I would always watch the Charlie Brown Christmas Special with my two little brothers. We would turn off all the lights except the Christmas tree and lay on the floor. This usually involved freshly baked cookies, too.

  64. Karen Dunlap says:

    I used to love the Great Pumpkin episode of Peanuts. The stuffed animal I slept with as a child was a snoopy. He is missing an ear, but I still have him.

  65. Onia {MommyFactor} says:

    I loved watching Peanuts when I was younger. How cool you interviewed him and learned more about the show.

  66. I remember looking forward to watching the Peanuts on television every season! I can’t believe they are 50!

  67. I remember looking forward to the holiday specials when I was growing up. I still enjoy the specials with my son.

  68. The theme song! As soon as it came on, we would all kind of just sit there and sway along to it!

  69. Erica Carnes says:

    I don’t really have any memories of watching it!

  70. jules mcnubbin says:

    i remember watching charlie brown movies every year!! it makes me very nostalgic thinking back.. 🙂

  71. Carolyn Daley says:

    My mom and I would watch A Charlie Brown Christmas after we finished baking our holiday cookies.

  72. Michelle H. says:

    I loved the specials. I especially enjoyed “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. I loved Linus’ speech about the birth of Jesus.

  73. Every year I dance like the little girl in the pink dress at the Christmas party. It’s one of my holiday favorites.

  74. Vikki Billings says:

    When i was a kid we all gathered around the tv when the holiday specials were on. Charlie Brown and Snoopy were our favorite.

Speak Your Mind

*