Friday, December 18, 2009

The Beatles' Christmas Message: 1969

Don't you hate how when you go out anywhere this time of year the department stores are blasting the odious "Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time" or whatever that saccharine nightmare of a McCartney song is called? Or the only-slightly-less-odious-and-in-its-own-way-more-crass "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)" by Johnandyoko and the Harlem Boys Choir? Blech. It's no wonder people loathe this time of year so much, with even artists of the caliber of our lads contributing to the dreck pile. (I like Christmas music just fine, but it's gotta be the choral stuff. Give me Vaughan Williams' Hodie, or the Bach Christmas Oratorio, or the Honneger Christmas Cantata, or even those little Rutter arrangements that are so pretty. Give me freaking Messiah, people. I mean, sheesh, why mess around with anything but the best?)

And yet before the Beatles stumbled through their disappointing solo Christmas crap, they did actually release seven Christmas fan club messages, sent as flexidiscs to club members each year from 1963 to 1969. I like the idea of this, just because it's so dated and adorable, and it's almost more adorable that they continued to do it even when the band was so totally falling apart and the whole idea must have seemed silly and weird. There's not really any music other than the incidental kind in these, and they frequently don't have much to do with Christmas-- in fact, they are largely a load of nonsense, but they're sort of essential nonsense for fans.

I'm going to post videos of the Christmas messages (assuming they're all findable on YouTube) each day until Christmas itself, and I'm going to count down from 1969, the last one, which is the most depressing simply because the Beatles couldn't be bothered to even be in the same room to record it. (And because Ringo uses most of his piece to shamelessly plug his then-new film The Magic Christian, which is notoriously the movie my husband detests more than any other in the world.) But listen for yourself. As we listen this next week, the Beatles will get younger and younger and more and more childlike and innocent, which seems to be in keeping with the Christmas spirit in some way.


  1. There's actually a great cover of Wonderful Christmas Time by Mark Ronson and Daniel Merriweather that is out now. Very good. Better than the original in that it doesn't sound dated. But for me, Christmas is all about cheesy, and I kinda like Paul's song, and John's (she said meekly).

  2. Well, that's okay too. I tend to be a little dogmatic here on the blog, but I don't mean to say that it's not okay to enjoy the cheese.

    I mean, I wrote a whole post defending "Real Love," so I'm hardly one to talk anyway. :)