#ChristmasSongADay – Part 1

With Christmas approaching I’ve decided to keep things lighthearted here for the festive season, so you won’t be seeing any rants until January! As has become my custom – I’m now in my third year of doing it – I have been treating (I think that’s the right word!) my Facebook friends and Twitter followers to a Christmas Song each day for Advent. I have in the past shared an edited highlights package of these but have never shared the full set on my blog, so it’s about time I put that right. It isn’t really my style to post every day, so the current plan is to split this into four parts: three sets of six and the final seven on Christmas Day. But plans can change, so if you’d prefer that I posted here each day in parallel with Twitter and Facebook please let me know.

I try to make this selection a little different from those you usually find on the compilation albums. Only about a quarter of my choices will have featured on a chart listing at any time – so if you’re looking for Slade or Wizzard I’m afraid you’ll be out of luck! But the one thing they have in common is that I like them, which I suppose should really go without saying! So, let’s get this show on the road…..

Having said that I generally avoid the pop charts, Day 1 immediately broke that rule. This has been a favourite of mine and although it was a huge Christmas hit it was actually written as a protest against commercialism. It is also a great song:

For Day 2 I chose a song by the best live band I’ve ever seen. Sadly, they disbanded a couple of years ago but their brand of folk music, blended with all sorts of other influences, brilliantly played with a large dose of lunacy lives on in their videos. This was released as a Christmas single but it made very little impact on the charts, sadly, peaking at no.188:

As Day 3 was a Sunday, I chose something more restful. This is a cover of an Enya song: I could have gone for the original but preferred this version. The fact that Viktoria is a Facebook friend had absolutely nothing to do with that – just listen to this and you’ll be seduced into the song even though, like me, you probably won’t know what the words mean. I understand it to have a seasonal meaning, though. This is one of the most beautiful voices you’ll ever hear:

I went back into protest mode for Day 4. If you haven’t come across him before, Tom Lehrer is a writer and performer of satirical songs. His heyday was during the 1950s and 1960s but he’s still with us, at the grand age of 89. If I tell you that one of his best known songs is called Poisoning Pigeons In The Park you’ll probably get an inkling of what is to come – this is his take on Christmas:

There are some songs which have become adopted as ‘pop standards’ for Christmas. As I said, I tend to avoid these, unless I find a version that gives them a new and, to my taste, a more enjoyable treatment. This is where Day 5 comes in. You will find so many versions of this song, and it’s probably on every pop Christmas compilation album ever, but not done like this. John Mellencamp has long been one of my favourite artists, with his brand of rootsy rock, and I think this is great. Stick with it to the end and there’s an adorable cameo from his daughter Teddi who was probably about 4 or 5 years old at the time. This was thirty years ago, and I hope she still enjoys her performance!

Today’s choice is another of the few that ruffled the pop charts. Again, it’s a long time favourite of mine from one of my favourite bands. Jethro Tull have made several Christmas songs and an album, but this is my preferred choice. This version was used by the BBC for their Top Of The Pops programme. There is also a clip on YouTube of the band performing the song in the studio, but I think this animation enhances the song beautifully:

I hope you’ve enjoyed this first selection, and I’ll see you again for more in a few days. Good luck with all your preparations for Christmas!

22 thoughts on “#ChristmasSongADay – Part 1

  1. Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC December 8, 2017 / 1:25 am

    For anyone else who couldn’t get the VERY clever Tom Lehrer to play – here are the lyrics from a live recording in a club, found on YouTube:
    ~~~~~~~
    INTRO:
    “One very familiar type of song is the Christmas carol. although it is perhaps a bit out of season at this time. However, I’m informed by my “disk jockey” friends – of whom I have none – in order to get a song popular by Christmas time, you have to start plugging it well in advance. so here goes.

    It has always seemed to me after all, that Christmas, with it’s spirit of giving us all a wonderful opportunity each year to reflect on what we all most sincerely and deeply believe in.

    I refer of course, to money. and yet none of the Christmas carols that you hear on the radio or in the street, even attempt to capture the true spirit of Christmas as we celebrate it in the United States — that is to say the commercial spirit. So I should like to offer the following Christmas carol for next year, as being perhaps a bit more appropriate.”

    Christmas time is here, by golly,
    Disapproval would be folly,
    Deck the halls with hunks of holly,
    Fill the cup and don’t say “when.”
    Kill the turkeys, ducks and chickens,
    Mix the punch, drag out the Dickens,
    Even though the prospect sickens,
    Brother, here we go again.

    On Christmas day you can’t get sore,
    Your fellow man you must adore,
    There’s time to rob him all the more
    The other three hundred and sixty-four.
    Relations, sparing no expense’ll
    Send some useless old utensil,
    Or a matching pen and pencil.
    “just the thing I need! how nice!”
    It doesn’t matter how sincere it
    Is, nor how heartfelt the spirit,
    Sentiment will not endear it,
    What’s important is the price.

    Hark the Herald Tribune sings,
    Advertising wondrous things.
    God rest ye merry, merchants,
    May you make the yuletide pay.
    Angels we have heard on high
    Tell us to go out and buy!

    So let the raucous sleigh bells jingle,
    Hail our dear old friend kris kringle,
    Driving his reindeer across the sky.
    Don’t stand underneath when they fly by.
    ~~~~~~~~~~
    Actually I did rather well myself, this last Christmas. the nicest present I received was a gift certificate “good at any hospital for a lobotomy”. rather thoughtful.

    Songwriters: Charles Ives
    A Christmas Carol lyrics © Theodore Presser Company

    Like

    • Clive December 8, 2017 / 8:27 am

      Many thanks for taking the time and trouble to do this, Madelyn, and apologies to anyone else who has been unable to view the video xx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC December 8, 2017 / 1:00 am

    Oh Clive I LOVE these! I have collected Christmas music all my life, and there’s not a mall-tune in the bunch — so I didn’t expect to be very surprised by your offerings after reading your intro.

    I have a Tull Christmas album in my collection which includes Solstice Bells, but the rest were new to me. THANK YOU. Time well spent, with a big smile on my face.

    LOVED the zanies from Day 2, and I agree that your friend Viktoria has a hauntingly lovely voice. The string accompaniment is beautiful as well – and you are right that I did not understand a single word. 🙂

    The Lehrer video returned a message that it was not available ::sigh::, so I will have to search for it uploaded by somebody else on YouTube. LOVE his stuff and don’t recall having heard this.

    As for the Mellencamp tune — young Teddi is indeed adorable, but will probably be scarred for life because she will NEVER be able to destroy this little snippet – lol.

    Merry Christmas, my friend. Can’t wait to see what else you come up with.
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Like

    • Clive December 8, 2017 / 8:26 am

      Many thanks, Madelyn, I’m so pleased you enjoyed them all. I’m not sure what happened with the Lehrer one, sorry about that! It must be one of those occasional YouTube copyright issues, which we get here sometimes too. Hopefully the next selection will be to your liking too 😊 xx

      Liked by 1 person

    • Clive December 7, 2017 / 12:32 pm

      I’m glad I chose them for you! Hopefully there will be one or two more that you like in the remainder – a real mixed bag!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Stevie Turner December 7, 2017 / 8:48 am

    Loved the Tom Lehrer one (hadn’t heard of him)! I remember John Mellencamp as John Cougar though?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive December 7, 2017 / 9:37 am

      Tom Lehrer is brilliant, you should really catch up with him! Johnny Cougar became John Cougar became John Cougar Mellencamp became John Mellencamp: basically, he grew up 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Osyth December 6, 2017 / 4:44 pm

    Greg Lake and Jethro Tull can play on loop repeat for me at this time of year and I will never EVER tire of either,. Great selection Clive and I look forward to your next batch-bake xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive December 6, 2017 / 4:55 pm

      Glad you approve! Hopefully there’ll be something you like in the next batch too 😊 xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • Osyth December 6, 2017 / 5:00 pm

        Meant to say I refuse to believe you won’t be ranting until January …. if you achieve this I will be frankly in awe. Just for a bit of bear-baiting I will simply say Trump-Jerusalem 😉 xx

        Like

      • Clive December 6, 2017 / 5:05 pm

        I’m going to do my best not to! Trying to keep it lighter in the run up to Christmas. And I’ve muttered about Numpty and Jerusalem on FB to Joanne so I’ve had my fix for today 😛 xx

        Liked by 1 person

      • Osyth December 6, 2017 / 5:08 pm

        Phew! I was actually quite worried for a moment 😂 xx

        Liked by 1 person

      • Clive December 6, 2017 / 5:16 pm

        Season of goodwill and all that 😉 xx

        Liked by 1 person

    • Clive December 6, 2017 / 12:43 pm

      So glad to hear that – it’s a bit of a forgotten gem and that video goes so well with the spirit of the song 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  5. franklparker December 6, 2017 / 12:26 pm

    That like button needs options like the one on Facebook! Love this wonderful selection of material that fits well with my personal taste in music.Thank you Clive.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Clive December 6, 2017 / 12:42 pm

      That’s really kind of you, Frank! I hope you enjoy the rest of the month too 😊

      Like

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