Changing Christmas songs

My very best wishes for a happy Christmas to OoL readers, contributors and administrators.

Christmas came early for me this year through an unexpected email several weeks ago from James Higham inviting me to contribute to OoL. My sincere thanks to him, Julia M and Longrider for their invitation. I hope to contribute more in the New Year and am grateful for readers’ comments which enable a different sort of discussion and audience than I would have on my own blog.

What follows isn’t about carols but popular songs of the festive season.

It emerges that the Pogues’ ‘Fairytale of New York’ with the late Kirsty MacColl is the most popular song of the decade, or, as the Telegraph describes it, ‘the century‘.


It features such hopeful and cheery lyrics:

Happy Christmas your arse
I pray God it’s our last

Although I could barely stomach popular Christmas songs as a child, I never thought this would have become so, erm, cherished over the years. I enjoy the Pogues, however, this song is not one of their best, in my (humble) opinion.

We exist for nearly a full year before we get to a happy, festive period which over 90 per cent of the population can enjoy — and with good reason.

As for the type of Christmas songs I did not fancy when younger growing up in the States is a song I’ve been known to sing quite frequently at home over the past few years.Ā  Perhaps I’m just getting older now, but ‘A Holly Jolly Christmas’ is something I’ve been humming since the first Sunday of Advent (the start of the Church year) in the run-up to Christmas for the past six years.

Lyrics, written by Johnny Marks, a Jewish songwriter, include pleasant notions, such as these:

Have a holly jolly Christmas
And when you walk down the street
Say hello to friends you know
And everyone you meet …

In retrospect, it seems that the nice Christmas songs those of us 50 and over remember were written for grownups and not for kids. Have a listen to Burl Ives singing ‘A Holly Jolly Christmas’. You’ll be buying mistletoe ere long:


Either I’m getting sentimental or just looking for something happy in our postmodern world. (Actually, I read that we are in the post-postmodern world, but the term for it escapes me. Quite frankly, I don’t really care.)

Enjoy your Christmas holiday — whether you profess as a creed (or not) — and have fun!

May the spirit of the season remain with us past Twelfth Night! It really <i>is</i> the ‘best time of the year’!

15 comments for “Changing Christmas songs

  1. December 24, 2011 at 6:10 am

    “… I never thought this would have become so, erm, cherished over the years.”

    Me neither! I quite like it now, it tells me Christmas is coming.

    I used to love ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ too, until I read about its use in the Moors Murders tape.. šŸ˜„

    • December 24, 2011 at 11:48 pm

      Thanks, JuliaM.

      I do wonder what we should do with information like that, fed to us by the MSM. A bit like discarding the baby with the bath water.

      Imagine that some wrong’un read a particular newspaper (one’s choice) or attended the C of E. Does that make the newspaper or church wrong?

      No, these songs merely indicate that a happy, festive time is arriving. The MSM and others will do what they can to denigrate it, song and season included.

  2. December 24, 2011 at 10:33 am

    That anarchist Leg-iron wrecked my sleeping pattern by pointing me to the works of Richie Kavanagh. This is a song related to Christmas and is about the turkey-processing industry on a small-holder basis.

    Granny was a Plucker

    • December 24, 2011 at 11:51 pm

      Yes, thanks, erm, hardly edifying, but … whatever.

    • December 25, 2011 at 7:17 am


  3. December 24, 2011 at 11:06 am

    They don’t make any new Xmas songs any more, in the past ten years or so there have only been three new ones (The Darkness, Geraldine McQueen and probably one by Cliff, and the Bob DYlan album of course).

    Until the 1970s or so, it was de rigeur for most artistes to bring out a Xmas hit every year or two on the off chance it would become a hit. Heck, even Keith Richards brought out a Xmas single in 1979..

    • December 24, 2011 at 11:57 pm

      Thanks, Mark, but it isn’t the frequency or the quantity of Christmas songs. It’s about the quality.

      There are still minor Christmas singles. Read about one last week. It was so significant, I forget which one it was — something off a recent telly contest (maybe). Zzz.

      • December 25, 2011 at 7:21 am

        Happily, it looks like ‘Army Wives’ is going to beat Zzzzzz Factor to the number one! šŸ˜ˆ

        • December 26, 2011 at 9:30 am

          Great news — thanks! šŸ™‚ The ladies deserve the top spot!

  4. December 24, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Status Quo didn’t release a Christmas song until 2008 when they produced a worthy successor to “Whatever You Want”

    • December 24, 2011 at 11:59 pm

      Again, this is a commentary about quality — not frequency.

      • December 25, 2011 at 9:31 am

        You have to be thankful for small mercies. The Quo are capable of putting out a Christmas song every year but being gentlemen, they don’t.

  5. December 25, 2011 at 7:20 am

    Having just read Aliette de Bodard’s splendid Aztec murder mystery series, it makes me look askance at our happy, jolly ‘Silver Bells’ Christmas song (often played on Aled Jones’ Radio 2 show) too… šŸ˜Æ

  6. December 25, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Elvis did a couple of Christmas albums. One had the usual commercial stuff. The lesser known collection included some traditional carols, which were well suited to his voice and a couple of moody bluesy numbers. You never hear them played these days, but if you want quality, they are certainly superior to the tinsel stuff we hear blasted out in the shops. I particularly like “If I Get Home on Christmas Day”.

    • December 26, 2011 at 9:37 am

      Thanks, Longrider — I’ll have a look!

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