As Phil Spector pieced together his A Christmas Gift To You festive album in 1963, his initial intention was to have the Ronettes voice the one custom-written number on display, Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry and Spector’ superlative ”Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”. According to Darlene Love, however, Ronnie Spector was never able to channel all the emotion and strength into the song that her producer (and beau) required, so Love was brought forward instead, to turn in what all the watching musicians expected would become a supercharged powerhouse performance.
They were right, of course, and the Ronettes’ failure did the rest of the world a major favor. Though it would pass unnoticed upon its original release in 1963, Love’s so-heartfelt version of the positively shimmering “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” has since become one of the quintessential festive pop hits, an evergreen that still dominates the radio for a few weeks every year, while Love herself recalls that pianist Leon Russell, too, excelled at that session. He threw one line into the mix that so thrilled Spector that he leaped out of the control room and handed the stunned Russell a check for $100 on the spot.