Tuesday 28 January 2020

like a tear runs across a frozen cheek...

Better late than never, here's the 2019 Christmas edition of


You might remember, somewhere in the mists of time, I used to do an earworm column every Friday. Sometimes we had guest editors sharing the contents of their internal jukeboxes. You might also remember that I'm a fan of good, seasonal music. I've got nothing especially against the likes of Slade and Wizzard, it's just that I became incredibly bored of hearing the same 10 songs over and over again every Christmas. There's loads of really good music produced about Christmas, and it's been something of a personal mission to find as much of it as I can and to bolster my Christmas playlist.

I realise it's completely the wrong time of the year, but that playlist can be accessed:
On Spotify
On Amazon Music

(yeah, I know it's not the same on both platforms. Sue me).

I thought it might be fun (for me) to do a little retrospective on the songs that I was listening to throughout December in 2019.  Maybe bookmark this post and come back to it towards the end of November?

"December Song (I dreamed of Christmas)" - George Michael

This is, of course, rendered slightly poignant by George Michael's death on Christmas Day in 2016. We also tend to associate George with the inescapable (and still very good and actually-very-sad) "Last Christmas". As with much of his latter-day solo work, this is lovely and downbeat, and I particularly enjoy that he wants nothing more at Christmas than peace on Earth and a day spent watching tv. "Snow would fall upon my bed like sugar from Jesus" though, George? really?

"Ring Out, Solstice Bells" - Jethro Tull
"I Believe in Father Christmas" - Greg Lake

OK, I realise that both of these are, to a greater or lesser extent, featured on those Christmas compilations, but I hadn't really heard either of them for a long time and they're both good songs. I like the pagan allusions of the Jethro Tull song, a feature of all of the best carols that hark to the solstice rather than particularly to the birth of Christ. I also very much enjoy how downbeat Greg Lake's song is. The Christmas we get we deserve, indeed.

"Nothing But a Child" / "Christmas in Washington" - Steve Earle
"Christmas in Prison" - John Prine

American country-tinged music is one of those genres that is a huge blindspot in my musical knowledge. I've got a few bits and bobs, but I'm otherwise mostly blissfully unaware. I actually know "Christmas in Prison" from a lovely cover that Emmy the Great did with Lightspeed Champion on one of those indie Christmas compilations. It's such a beautiful song that, when I discovered that it was a cover (I think it was mentioned in the comments of an article the Guardian did on the 50 Greatest Christmas songs, which I trawled looking for tips), I immediately went looking for it. The two Steve Earle songs were also the result of a tip-off in the comments to that article, which is well worth a look if you're interested in this sort of thing -- the comments much more than the Guardian's countdown itself. I like that both these songs are a little rougher and more grimy, and generally about a million miles from the slickly produced stuff we usually hear. I discovered Tom Waits' "Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis" a couple of years ago, and it's very much from the same kind of school of thought.

"White Christmas" - Otis Redding

When Otis sings this, he really, really means it. Trust me, no one is dreaming of a white christmas quite as hard as Otis Redding is here.

"December Will Be Magic Again" - Kate Bush

Just lovely. I've actually also got an instrumental version of this by someone on what sounds like a clarinet, and that's beautiful too, There's something about the ethereal nature of Kate Bush's voice that really suits the season, don't you think?

"Father Christmas" - The Kinks

A song about someone dressed as Father Christmas being mugged by some kids. They got banned from performing this on Top of the Pops, you know

"Sock it to me Santa" - Bob Seger

You know what pop? 
What's that son?
Christmas just isn't gonna be the same this year
Why is that?
'Cause Santa's got a brand new bag!

Because it's silly and because it rocks.

"Purple Snowflakes" - Marvin Gaye

The best thing about this song is the way that Marvin turns the full power of his love onto some lucky girl (chesnuts roasting), but makes absolutely no bones about the fact that this isn't going to be a long term affair (tootsies toasting)... although, to be fair, he does say he will always remember this night (purple snowflakes).

"Heart on Snow" - Marc Almond

Not exactly festive, but I this is suitably dramatic and wintery and Russian and suits Marc Almond down to the ground.

I'm sure you know these and many more, so don't be shy to let me know your favourites.

Right, well I've got that off my chest anyway.  As you were.


  1. what? offering me an opportunity to spout off about music? it's like you don't know me at all... ;)