Advent Calendar 2022: Christmas Day 👼

It’s Christmas! To quote Noddy Holder, no less – see Day 6 if you don’t get the reference. For my Advent Calendar I have a kind of regular playlist for Christmas Day, so this will be an unashamed ripoff of what I have built up over previous years, with a couple of changes – including the additional longer Christmas gift video that I promised you yesterday. A couple of these songs actually made their debut last year but I love them both so you’re getting them again! As I said last year, I am grateful to 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.

This is my perennial Christmas Day favourite:

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 late John Jennings, MCC’s long time collaborator and producer, is credited with the harmony vocals you can hear. This song, above all, is the one that really speaks to me today.

I played this next one for the first time last year and as it is rather lovely I thought I’d play it again:

That was 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. After I gave you The Snowman yesterday this seemed a natural follow up, too.

I’ve played music by Blackmore’s Night a couple of times this year – as recently as yesterday, in fact. But they are ideally suited to this season, and their wonderful album Winter Carols is a regular one for me to play. I debuted this song last Christmas Day, and as it is so lovely I’m playing it again for you:

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. As it is both Christmas Day and a Sunday – the day I play carols for my Advent Calendar – this feels right. So maybe I should play another carol:

You will no doubt have noticed that I am a fan of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, and this is a return visit for them this year. This video was made in 2020, during the big lockdown, and I think it’s fabulous! I bet you’ve never heard it like that before, either.

My final – well, almost final – song for today is the one that anyone who knows my musical taste will have been expecting at some point. Why not leave the best till last, eh? So here it is:

It seems that I’m not the only one who likes this: the video has upwards of 86m YouTube views. This song, written by Jem Finer and Shane MacGowan of The Pogues, was originally released in November 1987 and peaked at #2 in the UK that year. It was prevented from being the Christmas #1 by The Pet Shop Boys’ dreadful synth-based rending of Always On My Mind. 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 twenty occasions since then, including an unbroken run since 2005. In this year’s Christmas chart, which was announced on Friday, it is at #13 having reached a peak for this year of #9. Over the years it has totted up a total on 118 weeks in the UK charts, including a further 5 so far this year, 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.

So, that is just about it for my annual music marathon. Over 25 days I have played you a total of 90 songs, 14 of which are in the current UK top 100 Singles chart, whilst a further 5 are there in versions other than the ones I have played. That means that I have given you 71 other songs, which is pleasing for me as I like to ring the changes. If I can play you something you may not have heard before I go for it. I hope you have enjoyed much of what you have heard and, as I said at the outset I really do appreciate you joining me for my annual labour of musical love, whether you have done that once, all twenty five times, or any number in between. It’s good to know that I can bring you such pleasure in music.

Before I go, I promised you something a little longer to listen to, didn’t I? Here in the UK we have a long running series of compilation albums under the banner heading of Now That’s What I Call… These began as collections of recent chart hits but have branched out in all kinds of directions since then. One such is Now That’s What I Call Christmas. This has had several incarnations and has grown over the years into a triple album with a very wide range of musical styles included, both pop hits and standards that I wouldn’t normally play – those by the guys in chunky jumpers by roaring open fires. The total running time of this version approaches two hours, and my Christmas gift to you is the whole shebang – you can play this in the background while doing other things, like opening presents, getting the Christmas lunch ready, having the traditional family Christmas argument, or anything that takes your fancy, really:

You’ll recognise quite a few of those as songs I’ve played, and I imagine that you will probably know most of them. But they provide a good backdrop to Christmas, don’t they?

All that remains is this year’s final Christmas image of the day. Will it be a tasteful one for Christmas Day? What do you think!

I’ve done worse! I wish you a very Happy and peaceful Christmas, and I’ll see you again on Tuesday for the regular weekly thingy 🎅🎁🎄