Thursday, 19 December 2019

Christmas Music: Merry Christmas Everybody

DC Editor Adam writes…


I'm out and about leading the Rock'n'Roll London Walk tomorrow. Here's one from the archive, first blogged back in December 2015…




Tomorrow afternoon on the Rock'n'Roll London Walk, the name Chas Chandler will pop up more than once.

Chas was bass player in The Animals, anchoring The House of the Rising Sun with a glorious, doom-laden plod. Then as a manager, he launched the career of Jimi Hendrix in the UK.


Chandler was also the manager of Slade, the biggest British act of the 70s in terms of sales with a whopping great SIX number one singles in this country.


Although they never fared particularly well in the US, Slade still occupy a place of great affection and esteem in the hearts of British music fans.


Their 1973 hit Merry Christmas Everybody is part of the fabric of Christmas in this country. Here it is…




It is played every year.

On heavy rotation.

Incessantly, some might say.

To the extent that this jaded adult, your correspondent, hasn't actually listened to the song properly, really listened to it for what must be going on for 30 years now.

Until this week.

On Wednesday morning, my eight-year-old daughter Isobella was getting dressed for school. My wife had tuned the radio to Smooth Christmas FM and I was frankly a bit grumpy about it – I prefer BBC6 Music.

Inevitably the unmistakable descending scale of Slade's Merry Christmas Everybody came galumphing forth like a geek in a bad jumper pissed on cider at the Christmas party, wielding mistletoe and halitosis.

Twenty years ago, my heart would have dropped into my boots and the sound of this biggest of all Christmas clich├ęs would have made me cross in the extreme.

On Wednesday I barely registered it. It is such a part of the Christmas landscape that acknowledging it would be akin to gasping in shock every time one saw a decorated tree in the month of December.

By the second note of the intro, however, for the first time in decades, I sat up and listened. Not because of the music, but because of my daughter's reaction. By the second note she shouted, with glee…


"Oh! I LOVE THIS SONG!!!"


(I can honestly say, hand-on-heart, that I cannot remember anyone EVER saying that about Merry Christmas Everybody by Slade.)


"Oh! I LOVE THIS SONG!!!"



(I realised I hadn't even LISTENED to it in DECADES.)


"Oh! I LOVE THIS SONG!!!"



(I further realised I had become a musical Ebeneezer Scrooge.)


So I listened. REALLY listened. And as my daughter sang along, I really HEARD.



The expectancy in the opening line – are you hanging up your stocking on the wall? To be eight-years-old that lyric must burst like fireworks in your heart.


The suggestion that Santa Claus might be a bit annoyed to have to stay off the booze for the day and does 100mph on his sleigh (a "ton-up" in biker parlance) – good gags, daft, affectionate.

The verse I had forgotten…


Are you waiting for the family to arrive?
Are you sure you've got the room to spare inside?
Does your granny always tell you
That the old songs are the best?
Then she's up and rock 'n' rolling with the rest



… a domestic scene to rival the Cratchits and nothing less!

The "room to spare" – the house will be packed on Christmas Day and someone will end up sitting on a makeshift chair but love will make space for everyone.


Once again I felt like Ebeneezer Scrooge, only this time I was throwing open the windows on Christmas morning and seeing – or hearing –  the day for the first time.


"Boy?! What song is that boy?!"

"Why, it's Merry Christmas Everybody by Slade, of course sir!"

"Most excellent boy! Run down to Reckless Records in Soho and fetch me the box set of Christmas Hits featuring Slade."

"The box set? The one as big as me?"

"Marvellous boy! If you run, there's an iTunes voucher in it for you!"


And then the closing line… "Look to the future now, it's only just begun," grins singer and writer Noddy Holder. And is that a Picardy third as he sings it? A chord full of hope, free of cynicism a pagan prayer for light in the bleak midwinter?

Like Scrooge, drunk on glee on that first Christmas Day of the rest of his life, I listened to Slade and resolved henceforth to keep Christmas music not just in my ears, but in my heart too.


Thanks to my Christmas spirits for showing the way… Isobella, Chas Chandler, Slade - Noddy Holder, Jim Lea, Dave Hill & Don Powell. And, of course, apologies to C. Dickens, not only for purloining his great Christmas Carol, but also because, for the first time ever, his beloved Christmas book has slipped to number two in my personal Christmas hit parade. I now realise that Merry Christmas Everybody by Slade is a more important British cultural Christmas artefact by far. AND you can dance to it.

Merry Christmas Everybody!





Here's the video for tomorrow's Rock'n'Roll London Walk 2pm Tottenham Court Road tube…






My Public Scheduled Tours for December 2019


19th December – Old Kensington – 2pm High Street Kensington Tube


19th December – Jack The Ripper – 7.30pm Tower Hill Tube (by the tram)

20th December – Rock'n'Roll London – 2pm Tottenham Court Road Tube (exit 1)

21st December – London Horror Story – 7.30pm St Paul's Tube

23rd December – A Village In Piccadilly – 2.30pm Piccadilly Circus Tube (by Eros)

26th December – Jack The Ripper – 7.30pm Tower Hill Tube (by the tram)

27th December – Hidden London – 11am Monument Tube (Fish Street Hill Exit)

28th December – London Horror Story – 7.30pm St Paul's Tube

28th December – The Beatles & Bob Dylan In 1960s London – 10am Temple Tube

30th December – A Village In Piccadilly – 2.30pm Piccadilly Circus Tube (by Eros)


My Public Scheduled Tours for January 2020

2nd January 2020 – Inside Covent Garden – 10am Covent Garden Tube

2nd January 2020  – Old Kensington – 2pm High Street Kensington Tube

2nd January 2020 – Jack The Ripper – 7.30pm Tower Hill Tube (by the tram)

3rd January 2020 – Rock'n'Roll London – 2pm Tottenham Court Road Tube (exit 1)

4th January 2020 – The Beatles & Bob Dylan In 1960s London – 10.45am Temple Tube

4th January 2020 – Musical Covent Garden – 2:30pm Temple Tube

4th January 2020 – Rock'n'Roll London Pub Walk – 7:15pm Tottenham Court Road Tube (exit 1)

5th January 2020 – Pink Floyd In 1960s London – 10:30a.m Leicester Sq Tube (exit 1)

5th January 2020 – Women In Music 1722 - 2019 – 2pm Leicester Sq Tube (exit 1)

16th January 2020 – Inside Covent Garden – 10am Covent Garden Tube

16th January 2020  – Old Kensington – 2pm High Street Kensington Tube

16th January 2020 – Jack The Ripper – 7.30pm Tower Hill Tube (by the tram)

17th January 2020 – Beatlemania! The Beatles In London 1961-65 – 10am Embankment tube

17th January 2020 – Rock'n'Roll London – 2pm Tottenham Court Road Tube (exit 1)

18th January 2020 – London Horror Story – 7.30pm St Paul's Tube

30th January 2020  – Old Kensington – 2pm High Street Kensington Tube

30th January 2020 – Jack The Ripper – 7.30pm Tower Hill Tube (by the tram)

31st January 2020 – Beatlemania! The Beatles In London 1961-65 – 10am Embankment tube

31st January 2020 – Rock'n'Roll London – 2pm Tottenham Court Road Tube (exit 1)




Keep In Touch…

   


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