Well, the big day is finally here, so this will be my last selection for this year’s Advent Calendar. Thank you for visiting: whether you have been with me for all of the posts so far or whether this is your first, I’m pleased to see you. And the wonders of technology mean that all of the previous posts are there for you to binge on when Christmas tv and the family get too much for you! There are two songs without which my Christmas Day wouldn’t be complete, so I’ll be playing both of them today, along with three that I haven’t shared before, though two of the acts are return visitors.
My first song for today is one which speaks so much about the beauty of Christmas:
Apologies for the audio-only version, but that was only ever an album track, as you can see, so no video has been made for it. The song is wonderful, though, and is one of those that I never tire of hearing. If you’ve been here before you will know that I am a big fan of Mary Chapin Carpenter, and her lovely warm, welcoming voice is so suited to songs like this. This isn’t actually one of her own songs – it was written by Robin and Linda Williams, a husband and wife folk music duo from Virginia. Not THAT Robin Williams, though! The album Come Darkness, Come Light was released in late September 2008, and reached #155 on the US albums chart, #30 in the Country chart, and #7 on the Holiday albums list.
The new addition to my Advent Calendar roster have a song in similar vein:
That is a track on the Moody Blues’ album December, released in October 2003. It is a Christmas-themed album, and was the band’s final record – and the first since their 1965 debut to include any songs not written by them. This one is a John Lodge/Justin Hayward song, with a tune you may well recognise: Bach’s Jesu Joy Of Man’s Desiring. The album didn’t make the charts, but I still think this is a lovely song, and the animation goes well with it.
The first of the two returning acts were here just a couple of days ago, but as they missed out on Day 6, when I shared a selection of versions of this song, I wanted to bring you their take on it. As usual, they add something:
They can always be relied on for an injection of humour into their music, and I hope you took up their invitation to join in with the singing!
I wanted to include another Christmas Carol on Christmas Day, and this one was released ten days ago, just in time for me to play it for you:
This was a track on Blackmore’s Night‘s album Winter Carols, which was originally released in October 2006 but has recently enjoyed its third reissue, which this video and the one I shared on Day 5 are promoting. As I mentioned previously, the original release charted at #74 in Germany, at #56 in Japan, and at #7 on the Billboard New Age chart – a new one on me. Simple Gifts is a Shaker song, written in 1848, which Sydney Carter then blended into his hymn The Lord Of The Dance, which he wrote in 1963. It has a strong traditional feel to it, and I’ve always liked it.
So, after a marathon for me of twenty five consecutive days of posts, we reach the final song of this year’s Advent Calendar. For anyone who knows my musical tastes and has been thinking “surely he isn’t going to leave it out” I bring you:
You didn’t really think I’d forgotten it, did you? This song, written by Jem Finer and Shane MacGowan of The Pogues, was originally released in November 1987 and peaked at #2 that year. It was prevented from being the Christmas Number One by The Pet Shop Boys’ dreadful synth-based rending of Always On My Mind, which was a beautiful Willie Nelson song until they got hold of it and murdered it. Still, Kirsty – who is much missed – and The Pogues have probably had the last laugh, as the song has reached the Christmas charts here in the UK on a further nineteen occasions since then, including an unbroken run since 2005. In this year’s Christmas chart, which was announced yesterday, it is spending its third week at #7. Over the years it has totted up a total on 112 weeks in the UK charts, but I still think it was robbed by never being #1! It also featured on The Pogues’ 1988 album If I Should Fall From Grace With God, which peaked at #3 in the UK and at #88 in the US, though it has never been a hit single in the States. Come to that, none of their other records have been, either.
A quick final note on that new Christmas singles chart. By my count, around sixty of the top hundred are Christmas songs, including a number of re-releases which have sneaked in for the last chart before Christmas. In addition to The Pogues, the chart includes songs I’ve shared this month by Wizzard, Slade, John Lennon, The Ronettes, Jona Lewie, Mud, The Pretenders, Chuck Berry, The Darkness, Bruce Springsteen, Chris de Burgh, and Greg Lake. So it appears that my choices are more mainstream than I thought, as thirteen have been chart hits again this year, as well as a further six songs for which I’ve given you cover versions. I must try harder next year! But whatever I do, rest assured that there will never be any Cliff Richard or Mariah Carey here: there are limits, you know!
That brings this year’s music to a conclusion. I hope that you have enjoyed at least some of the eighty songs and other assorted videos that have appeared here in the past twenty five days. All that remains is for me to thank everyone who has viewed, liked, commented on any of these posts – I really do appreciate your support, and I will be back again on Tuesday for a seasonal return of Tuesday Tunes. I hope to see you again then. Before I go, one final thought for the day:
I wish you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas 🎅👼☃️🎁🎄🎉🎍🪅👑🎊