Advent song for December 21: Ringing The Bells For Jim

Today’s song is late, which is good because it may be the most tragic one yet, and I don’t want to ruin anyone’s Sunday. This song is the one I couldn’t post on Friday, because it was Faye’s birthday and she has a brother called Jim, and I didn’t want to be responsible for a drop in team productivity by sending her home in tears. Maybe listen to this one with nobody else around.

Advent song for December 19: Another Christmas

I had a different song scheduled for today, but it’s my colleague’s birthday and for reasons which will become apparent early next week if I tell you that her brother is called Jim, I decided I needed a last-minute replacement, which fortunately the same colleague provided by sending me a link to this, which I’ve never heard before and like a lot. So thank you Faye, and happy birthday to you.

Advent song for December 16: Blue Christmas

Even Elvis doesn’t really think this is a sad song, as you can see in this live recording from his 1968 Comeback Special. My favourite thing about this video is the fact that the fans are all about eight inches from the King, and the stage looks like one somebody has jerryrigged for a school concert. That’s two favourite things, isn’t it? You see, I have a mince pie and a cup of tea so I’m incapable of bringing you the requisite amount of sadness. Don’t worry: as you know, there’s plenty to come.

Advent song for December 15: Please Come Home For Christmas

The Charles Brown original, rather than the Bon Jovi cover, though there is something to be said in favour of both. But this has a gentler and sweeter feel about it, and ends with a bell going DING rather than a screechy guitar solo, and so for that alone it is the winner. It’s another one that is wistful rather than sad but don’t worry, by the end of this week you’ll be a sobbing mess, I promise.

Advent song for December 14: Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis

From the opening line (Tom Waits at his gruffest, singing “Charlie, I’m pregnant”), this is an unlikely song, whose narrative gets more improbably distressing as it goes on. Our hooker has suffered almost every kind of misfortune you can think of, and some you probably can’t. It’s one of only two songs I can currently think of (the other is Carter USM’s England) where a male vocalist sings evocatively, articulately and heartbreakingly about being a female sex worker, and for that alone we should salute it.

Advent song for December 13: A Winter’s Tale

David Essex in his Kevin Rowland era here, looking both alarmingly cheesy and adorably beautiful all at once. My favourite David Essex fact is that when they made a jukebox musical featuring his back catalogue, it starred David Essex. This is a man who goes his own way, as indeed does the lover who leaves him in the lyrics of this song. Isn’t there something threatening, incidentally, about the line “I hope that love and strength are with you for the length of your time on earth”? As though if it has anything to do with David, that time might be limited? Just me, perhaps. Happy Saturday!

Advent song for December 12: Christmas Just Ain’t Christmas Without The One You Love

This is another one that’s much too happy to be a genuinely sad song. It has more or less the same sentiments as Last Christmas, but it’s much jollier, and I can’t imagine being able to sing it without smiling. There’s also an awesome key change around 01:40 and a triumphant bit of Penny Lane-esque trumpet which reaches its peak on around two minutes, so look out for those.