Advent Calendar Day 11

I’ve noticed that my innate tendency towards order (I’m a Virgoan, you know) has meant that – albeit unconsciously – I’ve begun loosely theming my selections. It wasn’t intentional and I’ll try not to keep doing it. Well, after today, anyway: from these two titles it would appear that the theme of the day is ‘rock.’

Today’s two songs are both regular Christmas favourites, one of which has a recently released video and the other being a band’s unique take on the song. Looking back through my notes (I told you I was organised!) I was a little surprised to see that I had never featured this first one before. Time to put that right, I think:

That video was released in October on Chuck’s YouTube channel, and I think it’s great – a good accompaniment to his Christmas classic. The song has always been associated with him, as he was the first to record it – in 1958 – but it was actually written by Johnny Marks and Marvin Brodie. Marks also wrote Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, but any suggestion that he had a fixation with animals sporting antlers is entirely a figment of your imagination, not mine. Chuck Berry’s version wasn’t a massive hit at the time, peaking at #69 in the US and #36 here in the UK, but has since sold more than a million copies so it hasn’t done too badly. There have been loads of cover versions: even the Grateful Dead have had a go at it, and someone recently put together a compilation version of the Orange Numpty apparently doing it. I thought about sharing that but it is so grotesque that I’ll leave it to you to find on YouTube – particularly good for you if you are need of a penance.

My second one for today is also instantly recognisable. I make no apologies for featuring this band for a second time, either – their videos deserve to be seen:

The song was originally recorded by Jimmy Helms in 1957. I would tell you of its chart placing but, given Billboard’s predilection for having a chart for almost anything, let’s just say that it’s complicated. But I think it performed pretty well. There have been many cover versions, including one by Max Bygraves which reached #7 in the UK in 1959. My apologies to the world. I didn’t even try to find that version, you’ll be glad to know. WOTE’s version is rather lovely, and shows their harmonies to good effect. It’s nice to see the original band again, and the much-missed Beard Guy making his usual crucial contribution. It only lasts for about a minute and a half, but if you watch to the end you’ll also see a trailer for one of their own songs, with a video which I think owes a debt to O Brother Where Art Thou.

That’s your lot for today, folks, apart from my image for today, which offers a lesson – for those who need it – about how to build up your crowd size:

Till tomorrow 🎅

Advent Calendar Day 1

Those of you who have been following me since before last festive season may recall that I have posted a lot of Christmas songs during December. I’ve been doing that under the banner of #ChristmasSongADay on Twitter for six or seven years, and added the Facebook page for this blog into the mix for the past two years. I have also posted a kind of seasonal picture each day on Instagram: though these might not have been to everyone’s taste they made some people laugh. Previously I have shared selections from the Christmas songs here, to allow you to catch up, but I’ve decided to do it a little differently this year, so

 “Welcome to my Advent Calendar!”

Sadly, I haven’t been able to work out a way of sending you virtual chocolates to open each day, so you’re going to have to make do with the songs and funnies. Sorry, but I’ll do my best to make it worth your while. What I’m going to be doing up to and including Christmas Day is to give you a Christmas song each day – or maybe two, as I can be more flexible with the format here – and share a Funny Of The Day with you too, all leading up to the big day and whatever might await us in a lockdown Christmas. So, without further ado (or waffle) here is the song that I have made it my tradition to begin with:

That was one of the big Christmas hits here in 1975, at a time when just about everyone was jumping on the bandwagon and releasing Christmas songs, though many of them were of dubious quality. You will, I hope, be relieved to know that very few of those will be featuring here: my preferred music for this season is rather better, I think, albeit a little obscure in some cases.

To get the month off with a swing, I thought I’d make today one of the ‘two song days’ by giving you this one too:

That song has become very much a Christmas standard since it was written in 1941, and there are known to be more than 220 versions in several languages. But I bet you’ve never seen it done like that before – I just love the bit when things go wild. That’s a far cry from Boney M or Crosby/Bowie, but I prefer it bigly. It dates back to 2013 when the band was a five piece, before the sad passing of Beard Guy (aka Mike Taylor). If you count the participants you can see all five of them so the ‘Feat. Doggies’ must be real, right? If Greg Lake can believe in Father Christmas…

That’s today’s songs, so its now time for the first Christmas Funny. I thought I’d break you in gently, as it wouldn’t be a good idea to lose you all on the first day:

I wonder when the first of these will arrive?

A final note for today. If you’ve been paying attention you might have noticed a change in the blog’s appearance. I like to do this for December to go with the Christmas theme of the posts. Normal service will be resumed in the new year.

See you tomorrow 👍