Advent Calendar 2022: Day 4 🎉

The first Sunday of this year’s Advent Calendar is upon us and, as has become my custom, today’s tunes will be treatments of Christmas carols. Two of these have been played here before, but I’m also giving you a third which is new for me, plus a bonus advert. I’m beginning to think that these ads are going to be a regular part of this year’s Calendar! A recent survey here found that many carols weren’t known by more than 40% of 18-29 year olds, and my paper published the list of the top ten. Two of today’s are in that list: maybe I need more 18-29 year old readers?

Let’s get things off to a rousing start, shall we? This one was #7 in that list, but this version works for me, as it is a lot of fun:

Sorry for the repetition, especially as there are many other videos of the band I could have chosen. There is just something about this one, though. Maddy Prior has been a part of the English folk music scene since the late Sixties, and was a founder member of Steeleye Span, one of the two bands (with Fairport Convention) at the forefront of the development of our folk-rock tradition. She is still in the band but each Christmas she has also been with the Carnival Band, who do a series of gigs putting their own slant on traditional carols. This is a typical example: they have a lot of fun doing these shows, and from the roar at the end it seems our typically stuffy British audiences enjoy them too! As a side note, the fiddle player is Giles Lewin, who was a founder member of Bellowhead, my favourite live band. You’ll be seeing them again soon, too!

I’ve also played this next one several times before, but you can’t keep a good song and video down, can you? I love this one:

That is just so very good. Annie Lennox is a singer who I loved when she was in the Eurythmics, but whose solo career has largely passed me by. I think this is amazing: the folk, almost pagan, treatment is very much to my taste, and her powerful voice carries the song so well. The video is brilliant, too. If you want to hear more from her, you’ll find this on her album A Christmas Cornucopia, released in 2010.

There has been very much a folk feel to these first two choices – I’ve been in my element! But I don’t think I’d class today’s final tune as coming from a folk singer. Regular readers will know that I’ve been a big fan of Fleetwood Mac in all of their incarnations, and in normal (i.e. non-Advent) times I’d have been posting a tribute to Christine McVie, who passed away last Wednesday. But Fleetwood Mac hadn’t, to my knowledge, ever recorded any Christmas songs: I checked, and I was right. But look what I found, ‘perfect’ for today:

This carol was #2 in the list I mentioned earlier, unknown to 46% of that younger age group. I think this is beautiful, but I don’t know much about it, I’m afraid. It was included on a ‘various artists’ compilation called A Gift Of Christmas in 1997, but I have also found it on a sampler disc sent to radio stations in 1993, and it also featured that year on an album called The Stars Come Out For Christmas Volume V, so I think it a fairly safe bet to assume that Christine’s recording was made then. The Coventry Carol is an English Christmas carol dating from the 16th century, which was traditionally performed in Coventry as part of a mystery play called The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors. The carol refers to the Massacre of the Innocents, in which Herod ordered all male infants under the age of two in Bethlehem to be killed, and is a lullaby sung by mothers of the doomed children. It is a sad little song, but rather fitting as a tribute to Christine, whose music has given me so much enjoyment for so long. RIP Songbird.

After yesterday’s first instalment of the Hafod Hardware saga I thought I’d seek out other less well-known Christmas ads. I was prompted to look up the one I’m playing by a story in the paper, which mentioned that many had been enjoying this one. You probably won’t be seeing this on tv, but I think it is rather lovely:

Sam Teale Productions are a small specialist company based in Cleckheaton, Yorkshire, who make videos for a range of clients, both for promotional purposes as well as things like weddings. They were founded in June 2020 and as well as Sam himself their website shows just three other people, one of whom is freelance while another is an apprentice. They have worked with both BBC and Sky News, and some big brand names, including Budweiser (sorry, chaps, but I still think that’s gnat’s piss). Many of their YouTube videos have low viewing figures, quite often not even reaching 100. This was published on 1 December and currently stands at over 194k (it was at 103k when I first watched it yesterday). That rather speaks for itself, I think, and I hope you enjoyed it as it seemed a good one to include on a Sunday. They made another last year, so if the response to this one is good I might share that with you as well. In case you were wondering, the music is a song called Constellations, by Ellie Holcomb, from her June 2021 album, Canyon. She is a singer-songwriter from Nashville, and has branched out into a solo career after many years in her husband’s band, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbours. Both she and her old man are worth checking out further, and I’ll be playing something else by her in this series.

That’s it for today. Just the usual image to end with:

There will be more carols next Sunday and the following week. See you again tomorrow 👼

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35 thoughts on “Advent Calendar 2022: Day 4 🎉

    • I try to make Sundays a little more reflective by playing carols, though I can still have fun with them. I didn’t know of the Christine McVie one until I did some searching, but the ad was featured in a newspaper report. The company did it beautifully and are being rewarded: over 460k views now.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Okay, if you were trying to produce tears, mission accomplished. What a beautiful commercial! Like Stevie, I liked two of the three musical choices today, though I wasn’t as keen on Maddy Prior. I know this is my bias, but I don’t typically like songs with a lot of fiddle in them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. All very Christmasy, both the carols and the bittersweet add.
    (So, it would be a very bad Santa that would leave a sixpack of Budweiser under your tree? I must agree with your ‘tasteful’ sentiments on Bud- a gross drop.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Darlene, glad you liked them. That ad is superb, isn’t it. I just checked: the Hafod ad that went viral was in 2019 and it has 2.7m YouTube views. Their other three have 66k, 73k and 53k. This one has been out three days and is already up to 206k. I think it might be stepping into Hafod’s shoes!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I like to inject a bit of variety into this, and there are lots of reworking around of traditional carols. You’ll be seeing more.

      That ad is a real tearjerker isn’t it. Amateur actors but beautifully made.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. great opening song; as you know, I generally like anything with a fiddle. the fact that he’s with Bellowhead is an added bonus! a wonderful song from Annie, and the video is quite interesting. I’m glad you were able to get Christie in your Advent series, such a talented singer and songwriter. I had never seen the final ad, but it was lovely, had me in tears at the end…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Being a former choir girl, I have sung the original versions of the first two Carols many times, but I love both versions, which are new to me…Love Christine’s version of the Coventry Carol she has a lovely voice xx

    Liked by 1 person

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