Merry Christmas! Today’s song is the 1985 Shakin’ Stevens’ classic Merry Christmas Everyone. I hope that everyone who enjoys my #365Songs has a wonderful Christmas.
It’s Christmas Eve! Today’s festive tune is Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride, with a bit of a latino twist! It was written as an instrumental in 1946 and lyrics were added later in 1950 by Mitchell Parrish whose other famous lyrics include Stars Fell On Alabama, Stardust and the English version of Volare!
I hope you enjoy this piece and I wish you all a very happy Christmas Eve! If it’s your first time on the site, find out more about the 365 Songs project. For more Christmaciousness, see all of my December songs here.
Today’s song is a ballad written by Depeche Mode’s Vince Clarke, but wasn’t released until his post-Depeche Mode days when he formed the band Yazoo with Alison Moyet. Only You then became their first single. Its association with Christmas came in 1983 when The Flying Pickets released an a cappella version which promptly became the Christmas No. 1 in the UK that year. Only You has since been covered in Spanish by Enrique Iglesias, and this year Kylie Minogue’s Christmas album features it as a duet with none other than James Corden.
Today’s Christmascious song is by the English composer Michael Head. The first time I heard The Little Road To Bethlehem was when Hayley Westenra included it on her Christmas album and I’ve loved it ever since! I particularly like the slightly irregular time signature which keeps you on your toes!
Today’s song is Paul McCartney’s 1983 Christmas #1, Pipes Of Peace. The video accompanying this single saw McCartney playing the roles of a British and German soldier in the 1914 Christmas truce between troops fighting in World War I. During the football match in No Man’s Land, the two soldiers exchange photos of their loved ones. A shell blast forces both sides to withdraw, and the two men realise they still have each other’s photos. If it sounds familiar from more recent times, it’s because the 2014 Sainsbury’s Christmas ad took its inspiration from this video! You can compare the two here: here’s Pipes Of Peace, and here’s the Sainsbury’s ad.
Today’s Christmacious tune is Wham’s 1984 classic Last Christmas with my own ‘piano ballad’ reworking. This song was kept firmly at the #2 spot as a result of Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas, which also involved George Michael and Andrew Ridgley. However, Last Christmas has made it into the best selling UK singles in the Christmas charts in 1985, 1986, 1987 and then every year since 2007! It’s been covered by everyone from Whigfield (of Saturday Night fame, a song I don’t think I’ll ever include in my 365songs project!) to Crazy Frog, with Joe McElderry and Ariana Grande somewhere in between.
I was wondering which song to play this morning and I discovered a friend had had a real fairytale evening last night in New York: she and her boyfriend watched NYC ballet perform The Nutcracker at the Lincoln Center and then her boyfriend proposed to her in Central Park! I thought Fairytale Of New York would be a good choice for today’s 365Song. ¡Muchísimas felicidades a Teresa y a Jorge!
The 1987 song by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl apparently came about as the result of a bet by their producer at the time, Elvis Costello, who wagered that the band would not be able to come up with a Christmas song. Fairytale Of New York was born and promptly topped the Irish charts. It was kept off the #1 spot in the UK by The Pet Shop Boys’ Always On My Mind.
After not being able to find any information about yesterday’s Christmacious tune, there is almost too much to write about Hark The Herald Angels Sing! This popular carol was written in 1739 by Charles Wesley and later adapted by Wesley’s colleague George Whitefield. However the version we know today uses music by none other than Felix Mendelssohn who, in 1840, wrote a cantata in commemoration of Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press. Music from this cantata was adapted by English composer William H. Cummings to fit Whitefield’s words. Earlier this month I played Once In Royal David’s City which is used as the opening hymn at the King’s College Chapel Cambridge Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. Hark The Herald Angels Sing has been used for many years as the closing carol for this service and it remains one of the most well-loved English carols.
In doing research for my song each day I can normally find information fairly easily about the stories behind the songs. However, there doesn’t seem to be much information about A Cradle In Bethlehem anywhere online other than the fact it was written by Alfred Bryan and Larry Stock! I’ve known this song for years as it was always one of my favourites on the Nat King Cole Christmas album. Having said that I’d never played it until yesterday when I recorded it for my 365Songs project! If you know anything more about the song, please let me know in the comments!
Today’s song Do They Know It’s Christmas, the charity single which entered the UK charts at #1 some 31 years ago yesterday. Inspired by the series of reports by Michael Buerk on the famine in Ethiopia, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure wrote Do They Know It’s Christmas in November 1984 and then brought together the great and the good from the world of popular music at the time to record the single on 25 November, releasing it on 3rd December. The song stayed at #1 in the charts for five weeks and with various rereleases and rerecordings, it has raised many millions for charity.