#ChristmasSongOfTheDay 2019 – Part One

In my post on Tuesday –  A Not Very Extreme Makeover – I promised to do what I did last year, by sharing here the songs which I have been posting on Twitter and Facebook for my #ChristmasSongOfTheDay. As we’ve now had almost a week of these this seems as good a time as any to start the snowball rolling. In my ordered mind there seems no other place to begin other than the beginning, so here’s what I posted on 1st December (last Sunday, if you’ve already lost the plot this month!):

Being a creature of habit, I have begun with that one for all of the five years that I’ve been celebrating Christmas songs in this way. It dates back to 1975, when I was 22 and in my first permanent employment after uni, and always brings back memories for me. The song has become a Christmas standard over the years and is still, in my view, one of the best Christmas hits we’ve ever seen in the pop charts. I don’t feature many ‘hits’ in my choices, because my taste in music is wider (better?) than the dross that seems to sell by the bucketload, but there are a very few honourable exceptions.

For Monday 2nd I shared a folk music version of a traditional carol. Many of you will know of Maddy Prior as being the long-time vocalist with Steeleye Span, but I suspect fewer will know of her in that role with the Carnival Band, who regularly tour at Christmas with a show of seasonal music. You can see from this video how much fun they have doing this – it’s joyous:

Tuesday saw the return of another of my favourites. The Dropkick Murphys are an American band with Irish roots, as their name suggests. Their take on the Christmas family gathering is wonderful, and there is so much to enjoy in this video. If it doesn’t make you smile, at least, I think you might need an operation to reverse your sense of humour bypass:

Having begun the month with three older favourites I thought I’d share a few first timers in my selection, and the past three have all been new to my choices for you. The first of these, from Wednesday 4th, is actually very new. It is the lead track from Bryan Adams’ recent EP of songs for the season, imaginatively entitled Christmas. This was only released last week, and offers a modern day retelling of the nativity story. I’ve long been a fan of his, and he has produced some great records over the past 35 years or so. This one might not quite be up there with his best, though it’s fun. But I think he might possibly have been upstaged in the video by the three ‘wise men,’ who appear to have dropped in from Wayne’s World:

Having originally been released in 1967, yesterday’s choice has taken a while to reach my selections. It was a novelty hit in Australia and New Zealand, but not in the US or the UK. I chose it because it carries a good message about the spirit of friendship to all, which I think is especially appropriate for Christmas. The video is fun, too:

Today’s choice completed my current trio of first timers (more are on the way), though again it is an oldie – dating from 1979. I’m rather breaking my own rule here, as this one actually spent five weeks in the UK charts, peaking at no.28. I don’t imagine that many at the time would have foreseen a collaboration between Thin Lizzy and two of the Sex Pistols but, under the name of The Greedies, this is their take on a couple of well known Christmas songs. They seem to be having fun with them, too:

That would have been a wrap for my first round up, apart from an extra one: today I also shared a bonus #Christmas video. This advert for a local hardware store has taken the country by storm, with coverage on national tv and in the press. It just shows what can be done with a budget of £100, love and a beautiful song. No need for strange dragons here. You may already have seen this but, if not, prepare yourself for two minutes of utter delightfulness:

I hope you’ve found something to enjoy amongst this rather mixed bag.  You can follow me on Twitter or my Facebook blog page if you want to see these every day as they appear, and don’t forget my less than standard approach to an Advent Calendar on Instagram. Links to all are in the column to the right.

See you again soon for the next set of songs.

A Not Very Extreme Makeover

Around this time of year I usually change the theme for my blog, to reflect the fact that we’re now in the month of Christmas and that my posts are, in the main, geared more towards entertainment than the more ‘serious’ topics that I often cover. Over the years I’ve used two of WordPress’ themes for this and have returned this year to ‘Spirit’, which on balance is my preferred choice. I’ll go back to the regular style in the New Year – it just wouldn’t be right to have Christmas trees and snow on the blog then!

I’m now in the eighth year of the #adventcalendar which I do on Instagram (and share on Twitter and for Facebook friends). This is far from serious and, on some days, not for the faint-hearted – my sense of humour has been described as ‘warped’ by some who know me. I think that a little harsh but you can judge for yourself if you click the link opposite, in the ‘Be Social With Me’ section. As a taster, here is today’s offering (on reflection, maybe those friends may be good judges, but this is one of the cleaner ones):

I’m also now in the fifth year of my other ‘celebration’ of Christmas, which is musical. That is hardly surprising, given how many of my posts have a musical subject. For December, the #SongOfTheDay that I share on Twitter and on the Facebook page for this blog (again, link to the right) transforms, as if by magic, into #ChristmasSongOfTheDay – I really worked on that, didn’t I! Both the tunes and the ‘funnies’ began on Sunday and will last through to Christmas Day, and they were joined last year by a special post for the Winter Solstice and by #NewYearSongOfTheDay, both of which are likely to get the treatment again this year. For those of you still to exercise the wisdom and good taste to join me on my Facebook page, I will again do what I began last year: a series of posts at roughly weekly intervals, giving you the chance to catch up on what you had been missing. By and large, my musical taste isn’t very oriented towards the pop charts: only four of last year’s selection had been chart hits. This reflects my view that most of what gets into the charts is rubbish! As a taster, this is today’s song. It comes from the brilliant Dropkick Murphys and is one that I’ve featured before. This hysterical video deserves another outing, though

I hope you’ll find plenty to enjoy in my Christmas month posts and on my social media sites, if you follow me there – yup, you guessed it, links are to the right if you don’t already. See you again soon – the first catch up post of songs will be here at the weekend – and I hope that, like the dogs in the picture above, your Christmas planning will take account of all eventualities 😉

A #ChristmasSongOfTheDay Part One

You may have noticed that my blog’s tagline includes the phrase ‘with occasional music,’ and you may also have noticed that I have made the odd post or several on this theme. I think I’m now in the fourth year – or maybe the fifth, time flies – of posting a Christmas song on Twitter and Facebook every day in December, leading up to two on Christmas Day itself. This year, for the first time, I’m sharing them with my newish Facebook page for this blog (obligatory plug – please feel free to hit the ‘like’ button on the widget thingy to the right), as well as Twitter, of course. Last year, I began posting them here too, in several chunks rather than daily, and as it went tolerably well I thought I’d do it again. You may have seen last year’s posts: if so, I’m relying on your memory being poor, as a number of these songs have featured before! So, welcome to Part One of 2018’s imaginatively titled #ChristmasSongOfTheDay.

One of the things I try to avoid with my choices is falling back on the usual suspects. There are many very good Christmas songs which have done little or nothing on the pop charts, and those are probably more to my musical tastes anyway. So, if you’re looking for Slade, Mud, Wham etc kindly move along now – nothing for you to see here! Having said that, I do make a few honourable exceptions, and the song I’ve started with each year is one of those. This has been one of my favourites since it was a massive hit in 1970, and was written as a message against the rampant commercialisation of Christmas. Nearly fifty years later that message is just as relevant, if not more so:

For December Sundays I try to choose something reflective, maybe a little more serious than some of my other choices which, as you will see, can be a little raucous! This year, my first Sunday choice was this one, with a beautiful video to accompany it:

I’ve loved Jackson Browne’s music ever since I first heard it, around the time I went to university – 1972. You may know of him as the co-writer of the song from which my blog takes his name, and I rate him very highly as a singer-songwriter. I was lucky enough to see him play live in 2010, at London’s Royal Albert Hall, and he didn’t disappoint. And yes, he did play Take It Easy!

Another longstanding favourite of mine is John Mellencamp (aka John Cougar, Johnny Cougar, John Cougar Mellencamp). This was my choice for Day 3: it is a live concert performance of a Christmas pop classic and, whilst other versions have been chart hits, this one wasn’t – although it does appear on a benefit album, A Very Special Christmas, which was released to support Special Olympics International Inc. This performance is typically boisterous and features a cameo by his then three year old daughter Teddi, who rather steals the show at the end.  The ‘proud Dad’ look on his face is lovely and, thirty or so years on, I hope she is as proud of this as he clearly is:

Continuing in rowdy mode into Day 4 I chose a song and video which encapsulate all the joys of a family Christmas. Or maybe not. You may not be familiar with the Dropkick Murphys but do watch this – the song is great, and the video is a hoot:

Something a little calmer for Day 5? OK, here you go – well, to begin with, anyway. Walk Off The Earth have made their career on the back of a whole raft of very creative videos, both cover versions and their own songs. If you like this, and haven’t come across them before, you can find loads more to watch on YouTube. Again, this is a Christmas pop standard which has featured in the charts, notably in the ‘duet’ by Bing Crosby and David Bowie. WOTE’s take on it is a little different:

The final song in this selection is the one I posted earlier today. Anyone with an interest in rock/folk/pop music will be aware of the Nobel Prize winner Mr Robert Zimmerman. But you may not be familiar with the album of Christmas songs he released in 2009: Christmas In The Heart. This is one of the tracks on that album, and shows a side of him you probably won’t have seen before:

That’s all for today, folks. There are so many songs to choose from, and I’m already afraid that I’m going to have to leave out some of my favourites. Oh well, there’s always next year. I’ll be back on Wednesday with songs 7 to 12 and I hope to see you again then. Do please let me know in the comments if there are any songs you would like me to include. I’m always open to suggestions: but be warned, I can always ignore them, unless they are very good, of course!