It’s back! Welcome to my 2021 Advent Calendar. I know that, officially, Advent began on Sunday, but when did you ever see an Advent Calendar in the shops that began on any day other than 1 December? Those of you who have been following me for a while may recall that I have always posted a lot of Christmas songs during December. I did it under the banner of #ChristmasSongADay on Twitter for six or seven years, then I added the Facebook page for this blog into the mix two years ago. I have also posted a kind of seasonal picture each day on Instagram: though these might not have been to everyone’s taste they made some people laugh. Last year I brought these together into my Advent Calendar. This seemed to be well received, so I thought I’d do it again: you will be seeing a tune or two (or three) every day up to and including Christmas Day, accompanied by cartoons which may raise a smile, a groan, or have you recoiling in horror and rushing to the vomitarium. The music will be a mixture of old favourites and some I haven’t shared before – the one common theme running through them is that I like them!
I still haven’t been able to work out a way of sending you virtual chocolates to open each day, so you’re going to have to make do with the songs and funnies and provide your own sweeties. Sorry, but I’ll do my best to make it worth your while. I should perhaps advise you that if your idea of good Christmas music is Mariah Carey, you’re in the wrong place! Likewise for the crooners and anyone sitting by a fire, wearing chunky knitwear. So, without further ado (or waffle) here is the song that for some unknown reason I have made it my tradition to begin with:
That was one of the big Christmas hits here in 1975, at a time when just about everyone was jumping on the bandwagon and releasing Christmas songs, though many of them were of dubious quality. The song was written by Greg Lake, of the prog rock bands King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, with other lyrics by Peter Sinfield, who was with Lake in the first of those bands. Although it is thought of as a Christmas song, Lake said that he wrote it in protest at the commercialisation of Christmas. Sinfield, however, said that the words are about a loss of innocence and childhood belief: take your pick! It reached #2 in the UK, #17 in Ireland, #95 in the US and #98 in Australia. I’ve always loved it, and continue to play it every year.
A later wave of Christmas bandwagon jumping took place in the Eighties (and just about every year since). One of the biggies was by Wham – remember the video, with them and their mates frolicking in the snow, probably imported somewhere in July for the shoot. Well, you probably won’t be surprised that I’ve always hated it, but you may be surprised that I’m going to be including a version of it. This is much more to my liking:
First To Eleven are one of my ‘finds’ from following YouTube recommendations. They are an interesting band: they were originally formed in 2009 under the name M4 when Ryan Krysiak, who was working as a guitar teacher, suggested a small group of his students who attended the same school form a band – even though, at the time, the members of the band’s ages ranged from between eight and ten years old, and they didn’t have a vocalist. In 2015, Audra Miller, who was 14 at the time, was at one of their gigs and asked to join the teaching programme. Their then vocalist left the band shortly after that and she has been in the role ever since – do the maths and you can work out that she was just 16 when this video was released in 2017. They are very prolific: well over 200 videos on YouTube of covers, umpteen albums available on iTunes, including a Christmas collection and a new 5 track Christmas EP released yesterday, and well over 1m YouTube subscribers. I really like them, and it probably helps that Audra is as cute as they come: I love the bit in this when one of the fake snowflakes lands on her eyelid. While the covers band is still very active, with at least one new video every week, three of them have branched out into a new band called Concrete Castles, in which they play their own songs – and very good they are, too.
So, that was Day 1. I hope it gave you a taste for the range I’ll be covering, from a massive UK hit single from days of yore, to a band I’d be surprised if any of you know. Over the next 24 days you’ll be exploring a lot of my musical preferences. from rock and pop to quite a bit of folk music. As I like to say – something for everyone!
I promised you that I will be following last year’s template and leaving you with an image of the day in each of these posts. I’m breaking you in gently (kind of):
See you again tomorrow ☃️