Today the Advent Calendar window opens on two songs that were both chart hits here. I had a count up yesterday and in the previous 21 days I have shared 45 songs, of which 9 went into the UK charts. I try not to give you too many of the songs that you’ll probably hear on the radio anyway, and 20% seems about right to me. I’m now about to spoil that, but I’ll make it up over the remaining three days!
In that look back over both this year and the previous five I didn’t find this one. It’s long overdue that I included it:
I really don’t know why it has taken me so long! That was released in November 1983, peaking at #15 in the UK and #36 in the US, where it was originally a B-side. It is often featured in compilation albums, due to its Christmas references, and is widely believed to be a song about lovers who are apart at Christmas. It isn’t: it was written for the band’s original guitarist, James Honeyman-Scott, who died the previous year. When you listen to the lyrics knowing that, it becomes all the more poignant.
Today’s second choice has been a regular of mine. For all the tenderness and love we feel at Christmas, you can’t do better than this one (!):
On reflection, that (!) may have been unfair: the song tells the classic love story of two people who can neither be together or apart, and once you get past Shane MacGowan’s dulcet tones it is rather beautiful in spirit – and not just the ones he consumed. The song owes much to the wonderfully sassy performance of Kirsty MacColl – it is sad to think that last Friday was the 20th anniversary of her passing. At the time of its 1987 release this reached #2 in the UK. It was held off the top spot, in one of the British record-buying public’s great crimes against music, by the Pet Shop Boys electronically turbo-charged version of Willie Nelson’s lovely song Always On My Mind, though you’d have been hard pressed to recognise it from the bland thumping beats they inflicted on it. The Pogues’ song has become a Christmas classic here, and appears in the December charts with enduring regularity: it is currently at #5, in a chart where five of the top seven are re-released (or newly downloaded) oldies. It has become part of our tradition: since its original release it has made the charts on seventeen further occasions, reaching the top twenty in all but one of those years. But it has never been a hit in the US – your bad, guys. And given that a couple of videos in this series have been copyright-blocked in the US I’m hoping this one doesn’t suffer the same fate.
Having said all that, for some reason this one came to mind to be my image of the day:
And on that note, see you tomorrow! 🎅🎄🦌