Home > Thoughts > A #ChristmasSongOfTheDay Part Two

A #ChristmasSongOfTheDay Part Two

As promised, here is the second compilation of Christmas songs which I have been posting each day on Twitter and on the Facebook page for my blog (usual plug – eyes right!). This also marks the day when I swap to a temporary Christmas theme for the blog – rather in keeping with the generally happy and festive posts I’m sharing this month (back to the usual misery in January!).

We all have our favourites and it would be very easy for me to post the same songs every year. Whilst the majority of this year’s selection have indeed featured at least once before in the four previous years in which I’ve done this, it’s always good to find something new. Sometimes these can arise from deliberate searches for artists on YouTube – often to see if there is a video for something I’ve heard on Apple Music – and on other occasions I just stumble into them! Day 7 was a case in point. This was someone of whom I’d never heard before, but I was rather taken by this one. It ranks at the Stinking Bishop end of cheesiness but is so much fun that I had to include it:

I was intrigued to learn more about Si Cranstoun, so I consulted the oracle – Google – which led me to a short Wikipedia article. What an interesting character! He had apparently been in ska and fifties revival bands, and had been a busker too, for twenty years before getting his first record deal a few years back. He has since made several albums of fifties-influenced songs, and his sheer exuberance deserves to win him a bigger audience – I hope he finds it, because his music is so much more fun than the dross we get on the radio nowadays! There are a number of other videos of him on YouTube, including some from his busking days, so do check him out if you enjoyed this one.

As the 8th was a Saturday, when many would no doubt have been braving the high street in search of Christmas goodies, I thought I’d choose something appropriate to help them on their way. Or maybe not! Tom Lehrer was a consummate writer and performer of satirical songs, and his Christmas offering is a little gem:

Lehrer only wrote 37 songs and performed just 109 times in a twenty year musical career – his day job was as a mathematics professor – but his fame and recognition grew slowly as people told each other about him. He once described it as having spread ‘like herpes, rather than Ebola’ which gives you an idea of his wit and style! He has long since retired from his ‘proper’ career as well as his sideline, but is apparently still enjoying life at the grand old age of 90. I fear that his style is unlikely to be popular today but he was rather good with words: try I Hold Your Hand In Mine or Poisoning Pigeons In The Park and you’ll see what I mean! Maybe we could get a Lehrer revival going, though I dread to think what he’d write about modern day politics on both sides of the Atlantic!

I usually try to post something more relaxed or traditional for a Sunday, like a carol, for instance. I’ve not shared this one before but it seemed to tick all of the boxes for day 9:

I’ve long been a fan of Alison Krauss – she has a beautiful voice and her brand of bluegrass music is very much to my liking. She has made several sorties into other types of music – notably on Raising Sand, the album she made with Robert Plant, formerly the lead singer of Led Zeppelin. That album won five Grammy awards – just a few of the twenty seven she has won to date! I also enjoy classical crossover as a genre, and this is a perfect example of the blending of styles that seems to come naturally to great musicians.

I marked day 10 with a bit of silliness from the best band I’ve ever seen live. Sadly, they split up in 2016, after more than ten years of making hugely enjoyable music and performing some occasionally outrageous live shows – their anti-Valentine’s Day show several years ago is still the only folk music gig I’ve attended where burlesque dancers were part of the show! This song made the BBC Radio 2 playlist on release, but didn’t trouble the charts – a pity, as it would have livened them up a bit. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the inimitable Bellowhead:

No one sleeps while they’re on!

Although, as I’ve said, I try to avoid chart hits – and my musical taste doesn’t really include many of them anyway – I do make the odd notable exception. This one, which I posted for day 11, is from one of my many favourite bands. It goes back to the 1970s when it seemed that everyone was making a Christmas record, many of dubious and variable quality. This is, I think, the only one of Jethro Tull’s three Christmas singles that charted, and they also recorded an entire album of seasonal music. I love this song, and this special promotional video that was made to accompany it on TV fits it perfectly:

And finally, for Part Two of this compilation, here is the song I posted today:

I bought the Band’s first album, Music From Big Pink, when it was first released, and played it to the point where the vinyl was almost transparent! There was just something about them, the songs they wrote, and the plaintive rawness of their performance that really got to me. This song was released on their album Islands in 1977, and typifies so much of what I like about them. There is a beauty and simplicity in the lyrics and the laid back musicianship that, to me, are very fitting for a Christmas song, and this seems a good point at which to conclude my Part Two. I’ll be back again next Tuesday with Part Three and hope to see you again then. In the meantime, you can see and hear each day’s song on my Facebook page and my Twitter feed, if you’d like to keep up to date – just click the links to the right if you don’t already follow me on either or both. If you do you’ll also see posts shared from my Instagram #AdventCalendar, though maybe the less said about that the better!

I hope your pre-Christmas is going well, and look forward to seeing you again next time.

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  1. December 14, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    I’ve been a fan of Jethro Tull for many years, and I loved the Alison Krauss/Robert Plant album. Thanks for sharing, Clive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 14, 2018 at 3:36 pm

      Likewise, on both counts. I remember buying ‘This Was’ when it was first released and ‘A Song for Jeffrey’ made the charts. My mum was listening to lots of Jim Reeves and the likes of Engelbert Humperdinck, and thought I was weird. She may well have been right for many other reasons but I’ll ‘Stand Up’ by my musical taste!

      Liked by 1 person

      • December 14, 2018 at 4:01 pm

        My mum hated my reggae, rock and blues albums. The generation gap was alive and kicking as I was growing up!

        Liked by 1 person

      • December 14, 2018 at 4:16 pm

        Same here. Black Sabbath and Humble Pie weren’t exactly her favourites, though I did get away with CS&N and the Moody Blues though 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • December 14, 2018 at 4:34 pm

        Can you help me? Are you for my brain? Ha ha, oh goodness, our poor mothers had never known anything like it! Be Bop Deluxe’s ‘Terminal Street’ had her reaching for the Valium…

        Liked by 1 person

      • December 14, 2018 at 4:54 pm

        Exactly! It was Deep Purple’s Child In Time that finally got me banished to my bedroom with my record player 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      • December 14, 2018 at 5:10 pm

        Ooh, a bit screechy, that one…

        Liked by 1 person

      • December 14, 2018 at 5:18 pm

        ‘That’s not music, it’s just screaming’ – yup, heard that before 😂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. December 14, 2018 at 10:48 am

    Tom Lehrer has always been a favourite of mine. I have just one of his records and still chuckle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 14, 2018 at 10:57 am

      He does rather have a way with words! I was introduced to him by a schoolfriend’s father, who had a collection of his songs on those old 78rpm shellac frisbee things. Happy days 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. December 14, 2018 at 9:33 am

    An eclectic Christmas mix … I loved Alison Krauss and as for the Jethro Tull, my husband is a huge fan and we all enjoy their Christmas album! I’ll be listening to all the video during the day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 14, 2018 at 10:01 am

      Many thanks, Annika. I’m glad I chose some you enjoyed – as you say, there’s a fair old mixture in there! I finally got to see Tull play live a few years ago, and it was great! I hope you take a look at part one as there’s more to be enjoyed there, and two more episodes to come 😊🎅

      Liked by 1 person

  4. December 13, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    Thank you Clive. Some interesting new musicians here, but I think Allison Krauss is definitely my favourite followed by The Band. Wishing you a very happy Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 13, 2018 at 12:48 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed those, Brigid. A very Happy Christmas to you too 😊🎅🎄

      Liked by 1 person

  5. December 12, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    I love the Allison Krauss song, so ethereal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 12, 2018 at 2:38 pm

      It is rather lovely, isn’t it! Like everything she does 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • December 15, 2018 at 1:26 am

        The very first time I saw her she was sixteen years old and only played the fiddle. I’m so glad she started to sing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • December 15, 2018 at 2:58 pm

        So am I! Think what we’d have been missing!

        Liked by 1 person

      • December 21, 2018 at 2:10 am

        Truly. Two years ago this ethereal voice started singing the Wexford Carol on my streaming station and I was awed.

        Liked by 1 person

      • December 21, 2018 at 9:22 am

        I’ve long been a fan of hers – her music kept me company in the car in the days when I had a long drive to work 😊

        Like

  6. December 12, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    I haven’t thought about Tom Lehrer in years – I used to listen to his stuff when I was a kid. Thank you for reminding me of him – he is so funny! I’ll be back to check out more on your blog, Clive. I just retired – I love your byline – ‘retired, not expired.’ LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 12, 2018 at 1:18 pm

      A schoolfriend’s father introduced me to him – his wordplay is superb. Thanks for your kind words: I think that byline applies to many of us 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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