🎅Advent Calendar – Christmas Day 🦌

It’s here at last – the big day has arrived, and my Advent Calendar reaches its final stop, as Daddy Claus crashes into the boiler before realising that central heating doesn’t have a chimney. In normal times we’d all be celebrating with our family around us but many, like me, are having to make do with keeping in touch via technology. Such is a Covid Christmas, but at least we have music to brighten our day, and the thought that we can see those we love when we are told that it is safe to do so. And in the meantime I have chocolate, loads of chocolate! As it’s Christmas Day, I’m giving you a bumper edition: quite a lot seems to have fallen out of today’s window.

I thought I’d start with something rousing, especially for those who’ve been up since 5am with excitable youngsters. This should get you jumping around with the little monsters:

That was released as a non-album single in December 2008, and made #40 in the UK charts. Like everything the Quo do it has no pretensions to musical greatness – it’s just a lot of fun, and a good way to shake off the early morning cobwebs. (A footnote: I gather that some US readers have got the ‘not available’ message for this one. Here’s an alternative version from a live tv broadcast, which I know does work in the US: https://youtu.be/oqI1oeSqFQg)

I thought I’d add in another little bit of fun for today. This is brand new – released yesterday – from the wonderful Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain:

If anyone was still in any doubt about whether Tier 4 and lockdowns could make you stir-crazy, I think you have your answer!

My next song is a long time Christmas favourite of mine:

Written by Robbie Robertson, with Rick Danko on lead vocals, that was on The Band’s 1977 album Islands. Whilst this was a bit of a contractual obligation album before they changed labels, and comprised a collection of unreleased tracks from previous album sessions, I think it a tribute to their quality that they could drop in a gem like this. The album reached #64 in the US but didn’t chart here. It marked the end of the band’s original line up, which was celebrated in the farewell live concert triple album The Last Waltz the following year. It would be a further fifteen years before a revised line up, including three of the five original members, would release new music.

The final one for today is one I’ve regularly shared on Christmas Day. To be honest, I can’t think of anything better than this to evoke the real spirit of Christmas:

That was on MCC’s 2008 album Come Darkness, Come Light: Twelve Songs Of Christmas, to give it its full title. The album peaked at #155 on the US Albums Chart, though it did make #7 on Billboard’s Top Holiday Albums chart. The album comprises six original tracks and six others, some carols, some covers. This is one of the covers, and was written by Robin and Linda Williams, a married singer-songwriter duo who have toured with MCC and sung on her albums – though not this one. It is a beautiful song for MCC’s warm voice, and is a fitting way to end my musical selections for this year’s Advent Calendar. I hope you’ve enjoyed them.

But that’s not quite all. Regular readers will know that I am a big fan of the wonderful Christmas ads made by Hafod Hardware, a shop in the small mid-Wales town of Rhayader. They have now created four of these little masterpieces and, although I shared this one on Day 2, I thought I’d share it again, as its message is absolutely perfect for any Christmas, but especially so in this strange year:

As with their other three ads, this tells a lovely story and is, simply, perfect. The music, as in previous years, comes from the beautiful voice of Andrea Von Kampen, this time singing a song from 1854, Hard Times Come No More: something I think we all wish for.

#GiveWhatYouCan

And for Christmas Day, a selection of images:



And a final thought from me to you. Thank you for all the page views, follows, likes, comments this year. Despite the weird things going on out there in the big wide world, this has been a great year for my blog, and I’m grateful to each and every one of you.

See you again next week, for a (kind of) seasonal special Tuesday Tunes🎅🎄🦌

🎅Advent Calendar – Christmas Eve🎄

My Advent Calendar reaches Christmas Eve, and it’s starting to look a bit like Christmas. A lockdown, Tier 4, shout and wave at your daughters from a distance kind of Christmas. It’s weird, but hopefully next year will be better. Maybe that’s why there is an air of sentimentality about today’s songs?

My first song is one that I have shared every year on this day since I started doing this (this is year 6 of these). Am I a creature of habit, or just plain old boring? You be the judge – or maybe not! You’ll soon spot why I couldn’t share this one on any other day:

Mindy Smith may well be new for you. She has been making records since 2003, although her most recent release was as far back as 2013: the EP Snowed In, from which this track comes. She has made some occasional appearances since then, and I’m hoping that she will be releasing some new music soon: the signs have been there on her social media pages. In her main period she released five albums between 2004 and 2012, all of which reached the Billboard Heat chart, and one of them – Stupid Love – actually topped that chart. But mainstream success has so far eluded her. To me, that’s a shame, as she writes and performs lovely songs: this one expresses what so many parents have experienced on Christmas Eve as they try to calm the excitable little ones. Mindy played an online show a few days ago. I missed it, as it was in the middle of the night UK time, but I’ve seen a photo of her set list and this one was on it. Maybe one day it will be on YouTube!

It probably doesn’t do my street cred much good to admit that I’ve always been a fan of Def Leppard, but I’ve said it now! Amongst the heavier rocking stuff they have always been good at rock ballads, and they released this one as a single in 2018:

I said I was getting a little sentimental, didn’t I, but if a bunch of gnarly old rockers can come up with a video like that, then why not? That one hasn’t been on any of the band’s albums, though it did feature as a bonus vinyl disc for their Record Day promo in 2019. It’s a simple song, but it really gets to the heart of the season, and is perhaps needed now more than ever:

“So here’s to you, and all you do
Let’s raise a glass to all that’s past, and to the future long may it last
Ohh let it last
And may the light shine on you, and trust your hopes to see it through
Forever after let it be true, for me and you”

I was going to leave it there for today, but a new animated video was released yesterday by a couple of the greatest country artists of my time, so I just had to add to today’s sentimentality overload by sharing it with you:

That is a Willie Nelson song, written in 1963 and originally a hit for Roy Orbison that year, though it has since been recorded by many others. This duet version with Willie is from Dolly Parton’s recently released album, A Holly Dolly Christmas, which has so far peaked at #16 in both the UK and US album charts.  I think we all need a hankie after that, and today’s other songs!

In case I haven’t already given you enough reminders, today is Christmas Eve when, in normal times, Fred would be starting his Christmas shopping:

And for those getting impatient for the big day, this one’s for you:

I’ll be here tomorrow with a bumper final Advent Calendar window. Hope to see you then 🎅🦌