Here's a re-post from a poster called on the Alex Chilton - The man and his music ... Yahoo group:
"I'm sure most have heard it, but it seems like a good time, and I have some interesting information on it.
The Alex version:
Story of it's origin:
"The Christmas Song" (commonly subtitled "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire") was written in 1944 by Mel Tormé and Bob Wells. According to Tormé, the song was written during a blistering hot summer. In an effort to “stay cool by thinking cool,” the most-performed (according to BMI) Christmas song was born.
“I saw a spiral pad on his piano with four lines written in pencil,” Tormé recalled. “They started, ‘Chestnuts roasting ... , Jack Frost nipping ... , Yuletide carols …, Folks dressed up like Eskimos.’ Bob (Wells, co-writer) didn’t think he was writing a song lyric. He said he thought if he could immerse himself in winter he could cool off. Forty minutes later that song was written. I wrote all the music and some of the lyrics.”
The Nat King Cole Trio first recorded the song early in 1946. At Cole’s behest — and over the objections of his label, Capitol Records — a second recording was made the same year utilizing a small string section, this version becoming a massive hit on both the pop and R&B charts.
Here's a spoof, "Chipmunks Roasting On An Open Fire" was made by Bob Rivers: "