Picture a hot, late august, sunny day in the English countryside, bees buzzing and birds singing in the hedgerow; the green, and yellowing green, of the fields parcelled out, rich with crop nearly ready for harvesting. Children play on the rolling hills whilst cows, sheep and horses lazily graze in the shimmering sun. The heat is a physical presence, not oppressive but touching your skin and making your T shirt hold fast to your back.
Inside a specially converted farm house, In a dark room, thick with aroma of marijuana smoke, stale beer and frustrated creativity, a Beatle picks up a bell stick from the box of random percussive instruments. The Bell stick makes an instantly recognisable sound…and in a Proustian moment McCartney is transported from one place to another. From summer to winter, add some late 70s synth a jaunty bassline and one of the most joyous, frivolous and slight Christmas classics is born.
‘Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time’ by Paul McCartney is evocative of a fleeting moment during the Christmas holidays. Friends, family, a few drinks and collective silliness. “we’re here tonight and that’s enough”. From Bing crooning White Christmas …to Shane & Kirsty’s mournful but magical Fairy Tale of New York, the Christmas song occupies a very special place in our hearts. From an irritant ear-worm being played around the supermarket to cheap and potent memory touchstone which connects. the now to the then.
As Charlie Dickens would tell you fusing the past to the present is an important function of any Christmas message, just look at all those expensive television ads. A popular Christmas song does this in a way which when it works is enchanted.. ‘When it works’ though … It ain’t easy, many have tried and failed…Queen, Kate Bush and Squeeze to name a few have all made dismal attempts at Christmas records.
And yet the pure spun gold of “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” or “Happy Christmas War is Over” or Mariah Careys “All I Want For Christmas” is the gift that keeps on giving. Equally exciting is discovering a world of other Christmas songs, Artists diverse as Booker T, Nick Lowe and Tracey Thorn ( from Everything but The Girl) have made stunning Christmas albums which are a joy to welcome back to the turntable as the nights draw in and the Town Christmas lights get turned on by minor soap celebrities.
We will have an interesting and eclectic collection of Christmas records available during the season of goodwill and cheer.