Thursday, 23 December 2010
The Ultimate Christmas
Nor will it be any of the usual Christmas suspects by The Beach Boys, Maria Carey, The Carpenters, Andy Williams, Elvis et al but something quite different. In fact, despite its humble background this CD has become an established part of the Christmas ritual at our house along with the Christmas morning fizz and evening slump in front of the TV.
It arrived in our house some years ago as a freebie with the daily newspaper and unlike most of its stable mates did not end up in the bin but was rather unexpectedly, played quite a lot. Like most free CDs it can only be described as a right old hotchpotch of songs from artists old and new(ish) but somehow it has a Christmassy charm that has saved it from the fate of others. Perhaps because it does not comprise traditional carols, which are still played in our house, or recent chart pop songs it falls neatly into that area of Christmas nostalgia – the period from the 1940s to the 1960s.
So in amongst the obvious and slightly hackneyed contenders like Bing’s ‘White Christmas’, Perry Como’s ‘Silver Bells’ and Nat King Cole’s ‘Christmas Song’ there are some interestingly irreverent additions like Eartha Kitt’s sultry ‘Santa Baby’. Quite what my children think of this is unclear – clearly they’ve never seen Marilyn Monroe singing it. Another favourite is ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ sung with satin-like silkiness by Crystal Gayle.
The only hint of more contemporary fare is given by Dolly Parton’s ‘Winter Wonderland’ and Roy Orbison’s ‘Pretty Paper’, together with Tom Jones and Michael Ball who also get a look in, but overall there is not a hint of Wizzard or the Pogues which, of course, is a huge seasonal blessing. This disc does not pander to in-store browsing pop but harks back to an era when snow decorated every Christmas and families sang around old upright pianos and drank mulled wine whilst breathing in Dad’s pipe tobacco smoke.
It is rather heart-warming to note that these old chestnuts seem to signify Christmas rather than the usual Slade and Band Aid offerings even to my iPod-generation children. Frankly, I’d rather that they take away memories of these songs with them into adulthood than Shakin’ Stevens.
I'm off to take my usual seasonal break from the keyboard, so I'll see you all in the new year. Merry Christmas!