- Awesome Music: Oh boy, where to start...
- The most obvious one would be A Charlie Brown Christmas. Yes, all of it. Almost unanimously considered one of the best Christmas albums of all time... and thankfully staying away from the more Glurge-laden trappings of seasonal music. "Christmas Time Is Here", for instance, will give you that instant Christmas feeling even on the hottest of summer days.
- Continuing in the Peanuts vein, we have the "Great Pumpkin Waltz", "Happiness Is", and "Rain, Rain Go Away".
- "Centrecourt", a tune that accompanies Snoopy's shenanigans on a tennis court, starts out rather quiet, with the only instruments being a piano and drums. About 45 seconds in, these really awesome and creepy synthesized strings kick in as Snoopy loses his temper.
- But we should not disregard his non-Peanuts related work. It's just as good! "Yesterdays", "Manha de Carnaval", "Cast Your Fate to the Wind"... and that's just the tip of this iceberg.
- Critical Dissonance: Guaraldi had the bad luck of starting his career just as New York was becoming the center of the jazz establishment and when more experimental styles of jazz were coming into vogue. As a melodically-inclined West Coast artist, he never had much critical respectability (except from San Francisco-based Ralph Gleason) and usually only rates a brief mention (at best) in most jazz histories. But between "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" and Peanuts he's always had a following, and he had a reputation as a crowd-pleaser when he performed live. There are signs that Guaraldi's been Vindicated by History, and he has much more respect in the jazz world these days.
- Gateway Series: Guaraldi's Peanuts specials scores, especially A Charlie Brown Christmas, has introduced whole generations of kids to jazz.
- Memetic Mutation: There's an unwritten law that any self-respecting Peanuts parody must use "Linus and Lucy" (or a Suspiciously Similar Song) as its soundtrack. Some even go as far as using other Guaraldi-alike songs.
- Misattributed Song: Two songs released on Fantasy Records' Guaraldi Peanuts CDs were actually cues written and recorded for The Charlie Brown & Snoopy Show many years after his death, a mistake Fantasy was slow to acknowledge.
- Never Live It Down: Can't really speak for the man himself, but his son, David, appears to not like his father being remembered as "the Peanuts guy," and to some extent it's hard to argue with the fact that his non-Peanuts work is not as well remembered despite being of equal and/or better quality.
- Newer Than They Think: While A Charlie Brown Christmas and its soundtrack album debuted in 1965, "Christmas Time is Here" didn't become a Christmas standard until the 21st century. It didn't even get its first Cover Version until 1982 (an Instrumental take by Jazz guitarist Ron Escheté), and only had a handful of them until 1998, when no less than three vocal versions were released (by Chicago, Kenny Loggins and Shawn Colvin), which seemed to open the floodgates for the song.
- Heartwarming Moments: "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing". Just... that.
- Signature Song: "Linus and Lucy", Peanuts' iconic Bootstrapped Theme, and probably one of the most widely recognizable jazz instrumentals out there. Chances are you'll hear this song in the back of your head whenever you're reading the comics.
- "Cast Your Fate to the Wind", as well. Guaraldi didn't mind the constant requests; he equated it to "signing the back of a check," in his own words.
- Stuck in Their Shadow: Starting with It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, John Scott Trotter (best known as Bing Crosby's longtime musical director) officially became Guaraldi's arranger for the Peanuts specials. Besides arranging, Trotter also composed some short music cues for the shows, leaving Guaraldi to write the longer pieces. As it turns out, a few of the catchy Peanuts musical moments were actually composed by Trotter: the flute piece in Great Pumpkin during Snoopy's "behind enemy lines" fantasy, the uptempo jazz bit during Snoopy's hockey fantasy in A Boy Named Charlie Brown, and the bus motif in that same movie. But since most people understandably assume that all the music was written by Guaraldi, they sometimes get attributed to him. Trotter died about 3 months before Guaraldi.
- Suspiciously Similar Song:
- "Oh Good Grief" has the same melody as "(Down at) Papa Joe's", a 1963 hit by The Dixiebelles. However, that particular piano line is a Standard Snippet that predates both songs by many decades.
- "My Little Drum" is a close musical cousin of "The Little Drummer Boy".
- He did it to himself as well. "Detained in San Ysidro" is a rewrite of "Treat Street".
- His score for It's Arbor Day... features almost exclusively cues that sound similar to his earlier work, if titled differently. It's been posited that his poor health at the time may have played no small part in this.
- His arrangement of "Yesterday" on The Eclectic Vince Guaraldi clearly borrows a lot of its style from "Christmas Time is Here".
- Sweet Dreams Fuel: A Charlie Brown Christmas.
- They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: The 2006 reissue of A Charlie Brown Christmas was controversial to say the least. Apart from some not inconsiderate mixing problems, "Linus and Lucy" is a completely different version altogether (though more in line with the version actually heard in the special). Some other songs have seen edits of various magnitudes, most glaringly "O Tannenbaum", the opening track, which now begins with a brief glissando that doesn't really fit in.
YMMV / Vince Guaraldi