#SaturdaySongs No.8 – Ring Out, Solstice Bells

Continuing my theme of songs related to this month, today’s #SaturdaySong is this one:

Unlike the other songs in this series, there isn’t a personal story attached to this one. I’m including it because it has always been a favourite of mine at this time of year. It was released in 1976 and was an unashamed attempt by Ian Anderson, the leader of Jethro Tull, to make a catchy, commercial song that would generate airplay and sales in the pre-Christmas period. To an extent he succeeded, as it reached the dizzy heights of no.28 in the UK charts, and I don’t think it charted anywhere else to any great degree either. But it has become one of the pop standards for Christmas and features on many a compilation album. It is actually about the winter solstice rather than Christmas itself, but that’s still good enough for me to include it!

This was actually Jethro Tull’s third Christmas record – they had previously released both A Christmas Song and Another Christmas Song (I kid you not!). Neither of those bothered the chart statisticians, though both are still available on the Jethro Tull Christmas Album, along with Solstice Bells and many others – I commend it to you, it’s a lovely record. The band is still going strong in its latest incarnation, and there is a live recording also available of a Christmas concert they performed in 2008 at St Brides Church in London. Sadly, I didn’t see that, but I did see them in 2010 and they were a delight: a huge back catalogue to draw from, and the wry wit of Anderson in between the music. But as the gig was in summer there were no Christmas songs on the set list.

This song is among many without which my Christmas wouldn’t seem complete, and I really should get round to compiling a proper playlist at some point! The nearest I’ve got to this is on YouTube, where you’ll find my playlist of #ChristmasSongADay for your perusal and delectation. I started this last year, and shared a song a day (just like it says on the tin!) from 1-25 December. I’m doing it again this year, both on Twitter and for those of you who have made the excellent choice of being my friend on Facebook. Links are to the right. And as it’s the season of goodwill and I’m feeling especially generous, I’m going to leave you with a video that was made especially for a BBC TV programme to promote the song. I think it fits rather well.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief stroll through my Christmas Past. See you again next week – it’s a cracker, I promise!

22 thoughts on “#SaturdaySongs No.8 – Ring Out, Solstice Bells

  1. Stevie Turner December 14, 2016 / 10:08 am

    We still see him playing at the festivals. He can still stand on one leg and play his flute too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive December 14, 2016 / 10:14 am

      He did that when I saw him too! A real showman, and I’m so pleased he has survived the 2016 cull 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. watchingthedaisies December 14, 2016 / 9:38 am

    I thought I knew all the Christmas songs but this is my first time hearing this song. Sadly, I never heard them live. Happy Christmas Clive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive December 14, 2016 / 9:49 am

      Where have you been for the past 40 years, Brigid?! 😂 Glad you liked it though 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. browney237 December 11, 2016 / 10:37 pm

    As I was reading your post, I thought how different Aussie Christmas songs are because it’s usually hot!
    Looking forward to next week.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive December 12, 2016 / 11:21 am

      I guess it’s what we’ve grown up with and become accustomed to. For me, a hot Christmas on the beach just wouldn’t seem right!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Osyth December 11, 2016 / 9:20 am

    One of the moments that bonded but could have destroyed my burgeoning relationship with my husband was when he (8 years older than me) said one of his favourite bands was Jethro Tull but I was probably too young to remember them. Indignation didn’t cover it and I reached for my iPod to play him this very song! Thank you … I love it and it was really good to read your piece as it ever is!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive December 11, 2016 / 9:52 am

      Thank you, I’m glad I chose one that has a special meaning for you. It’s horrifying to think I remember this when it first came out though (I’m older than you too 😊). It really doesn’t seem like 40 years!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Claremary P. Sweeney December 11, 2016 / 5:29 am

    The info and video were priceless. I saw him in concert many decades ago and he put on an amazing show. The music is perfect for a Medieval Feast.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive December 11, 2016 / 8:52 am

      Glad you enjoyed it, Clare. You’re right, that’s why I shared the second video too, as it really captured the spirit. He still does put on an amazing show – he’s only been doing it for 49 years so I guess he’s getting the hang of it now 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • Clive December 11, 2016 / 9:05 pm

        I think you’ll stand more chance of that than I will! You’re the published author around here 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • Claremary P. Sweeney December 13, 2016 / 12:18 pm

        Actually, I think you’re great right now. You’ll just be greater in 40 years!


      • Clive December 13, 2016 / 12:24 pm

        Thank you! I can say the same for you. Let’s revisit this conversation in 40 years and compare notes 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  6. StephJ December 10, 2016 / 1:02 pm

    Great tunes! Someone like Jethro Tull! Now I am in the festive spirit! yay!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive December 10, 2016 / 1:06 pm

      Glad you like it, as I said it’s one of my favourites even after 40 years!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Clive December 10, 2016 / 12:46 pm

    And he’s still got it, after 49 years with the band!


  8. endardoo December 10, 2016 / 12:04 pm

    What a unique performer Ian Anderson is …. shaman, showman and boy did he flaute it! (Ouch!)

    Liked by 1 person

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