Advent Song for December 17: Wonderful Christmastime

First off, I need you to let me know if the sound is OK in the video I’ve chosen, because I’ve left my headphones at home so I can’t listen to it. But even the video of this song makes me happy because it’s a perfect illustration of the enduring guileless charm of Sir Thumbsaloft and co. He literally is this cheerful! Imagine that! No wonder he’s still going strong, the only material difference between 1960s Paul and 2010s Paul the purple hair-dye and the transposition of some of the big hits down a key or two so that he can still hit the high notes. Let’s all age like Paul McCartney.

In further agreeably eccentric English news, you will absolutely want to click through and look at the pictures in this story about three penguins visiting the residents of a Lincoln care home.

December 23: Wonderful Christmas Time

Come on, you knew it was coming. How much more McCartney can you get than this? None more McCartney, that’s how much. This is a terrible-quality video because I can’t find a better one but watch it anyway, because even when it’s this fuzzy, you can see how much fun everyone is having. EYE would like to have Christmas with the McCartneys and friends. There’s also a pleasing foreshadowing here, in the voices the choir of children singing their song, of the Frog Song, in which after extensive auditions for a child for the part of Rupert, Macca ended up doing it himself because – well, I’ll let him tell you:

We searched high and low for Rupert. We must’ve auditioned every kid in London. And they all came in and we said, ‘All you need to do is say ‘Hello, my name’s Rupert.‘ And nearly all of them came in with, ‘Hello, my name’s Wooper‘. We said, ‘Not ‘wooper’, ‘Rupert”…. In the end Geoff [Dunbar, the director] said, ‘would you do it?’

December 20: The Christmas Song

If you search for “Paul McCartney Christmas Song” on YouTube, you don’t get this. You only get this by searching for “Paul McCartney Chestnuts Roasting”, which to be fair is probably what lots of people think this song is called, but you still wouldn’t know to search for it unless you knew it existed, which until recently I didn’t. This is Macca’s contribution to a 2012 complication album called Holidays Rule which apparently sank without trace. This, though, is lovely, which is why it gets a coveted twentysomething spot, although I think it’s also fine for you to listen to Nat do it instead.


December 17: We All Stand Together

I said EYE was excited and that you SHOULD be, not that you WOULD be. But you should, because this song is adorable, and the animation that accompanies it even more so (if you have quarter of an hour to spare you should go and watch the full-length version). This wasn’t a Christmas number one, because in the same year it was released Band Aid and Wham’s Last Christmas occupied the number one and two slots, which seems reasonable, but it did make it to number three – and all three songs, having occupied the top of the charts in 1984, attained the peculiar feat of re-entering the charts a year later, so that Christmas 1985 sounded almost exactly like Christmas 1984, if you weren’t listening carefully. Only with extra Aled Jones. Happy last weekend before Christmas!

December 15: The Very Thought Of You

This is only middlingly Christmassy, inasmuch as it isn’t Christmassy at all, but it sounds it because it’s a 1930s standard with a lush musical arrangement, and it was once recorded by Bing Crosby, who is of course the Christmassiest singer of all, and also by Nat King Cole, who is of course the second Christmassiest singer of all (and as it happens there’s more Nat to come in a few days’ time). With a song as lovely as this you don’t need to make excuses, anyway, it’s just a joyful thing to listen to, ideally whilst roasting chestnuts on an open fire.

And the reason it fits into the Beatles theme is that this version is from Tony Bennett’s 2006 album Duets: An American Classic, recorded in celebration of Bennett’s eightieth birthday – yes, he did just turn ninety – and it features Paul McCartney, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I just have (three times in a row).

December 11: Mull Of Kintyre

We’ve featured this song before, back in 2010 when the theme was UK Christmas number one singles since 1976 – which, like this year’s, left me very little leeway in terms of the quality of tunes selected. That’s slightly unfair to the song, though, which isn’t as bad as I think it is, even if it’s no Always On My Mind. We had the official video last time, so – in order not to repeat myself six years later – today here’s a live version from the Mike Yarwood Christmas special of 1977, hence added stars, sparkle and general seasonal appeal, and don’t say I never treat you to anything, although I am a bit worried for everyone’s health given the quantity of dry ice being pumped out onto the stage at regular intervals. It can’t be good for the bagpipes either, can it? But then, I can’t think of anything that would necessarily be good for bagpipes, except a very strict set of rules about who is allowed to play them. I digress. Here’s Paul.

December 10: Twin Rudolphs

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer isn’t anyone’s favourite Christmas song, is it? Or is it? If it isn’t your favourite Christmas song neither of these versions is likely to change your mind, but it’s the only Christmas classic that has been recorded by multiple Beatles and so it gets a starring Saturday spot here.

Version 1 is the 1979 b-side to Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmastime and is optimistically entitled Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reggae, which makes it sound quite good, doesn’t it? It’s really not, although the very last note is quite nice. Version 2 is (of course) from Ringo’s Christmas album, and as well as being definitely better than Paul’s, features a voiceover, a mistake which they just left in, and (of course) a key change. And the backing vocals are really good! The lead vocals still sound like Ringo. Do keep listening to the end, which is everything you are hoping it will be.

Advent song for December 13

This song is kind of dull, at least by Paul McCartney’s standards (no fireworks, no explosions), but the video is like something out of a dream. Not the David Lynch kind that makes some kind of glorious visual sense even if you’re not sure what it means; more the kind you start to tell someone about the next morning before realising as you’re describing it that none of it makes any sense even to you, and it was actually kind of dull.

I like the contrast between the choreographed pipers on the beach and the becardiganned Linda, who looks as though she doesn’t even know she’s on camera and is just out for a walk and a bit of a sing with her family. I assume some of the children in the later scenes are minor McCartneys, but it’s a bit too fuzzy for me to be able to be certain. This was UK Christmas number one in 1977, when those haircuts were considered acceptable.

Outdoor gladrags

Last Sunday was the hottest of a run of hot days in London. It was also the day the England football team lost to Germany in a 4-1 thriller in the second round of the World Cup, Kevin Pietersen’s 30th birthday, and the third and final day of Hard Rock Calling, the misleadingly-named music festival which this year featured, among other hard rockers, Stevie Wonder, James Morrison, Crowded House, Elvis Costello and Crosby, Stills and Nash.

But it was the promise of Paul McCartney which had me eagerly pressing the “refresh” button on my browser the morning tickets went on sale. I tried to get tickets to see him at the Dome back in December, but the good seats were insanely expensive and anyway, it sold out before I could buy any. Day tickets to Hard Rock Calling are £60 and you get to sit anywhere you like and see lots of other acts, so this was a much better choice.

Well, it was great and the photos are here, but in the long minutes between acts I found myself fascinated by what people choose to wear when it’s hot and they’re going to be outside all day, because if you live in or near London (or any British city), neither of those things is very often true. It’s hot today, but I am spending eight hours of it inside an air-conditioned office, so I am wearing a dress with sleeves. On Sunday, we were all exposed to bright sun and 30C temperatures for about the same amount of time. In those circumstances, deciding what to wear can be quite tricky. So I inspected the choices of some of my fellow revellers, and have come up with some guidelines, which I now present to you for free, with nothing in mind but your welfare and happiness:

1. As in so many areas of life, I agree with Baz Luhrmann. Rule number one is wear sunscreen.

2. With no shade and barely a cloud in the sky, hats are the order of the day:

people in hats
3. Be careful with straps. Straps are good, but ill-fitting or competing straps are bad. However, if you have no choice but to show off your bra straps, do it with chutzpah, so it looks like you meant it:

lady with straps

4. It’s better to wear too many clothes than too few. You recover faster from being hot than you do from being burnt (I have tried both, so I can say this with certainty). And if you wear light, loose clothes you probably won’t be much hotter than you would have been in a bikini. I liked this outfit very much:

5. Do not, under any circumstances, wear a bikini. Bikinis are strictly for the beach.

I should come clean at this point and tell you that I was wearing a jumpsuit.

In many ways they are ideal hot-weather outdoor wear: they are durable, you can sit cross-legged without risking your modesty, and they keep all the ungainly bits covered while allowing arms and legs unfettered access to the air. However, they can be tricky to go to the toilet in. I think the answer to this is to wear a baggy-ish one with no complicated fastenings, and to stay on the fuzzy side of sober. You’ll be pleased to know that I more or less managed both.

However, based on extensive research I have decided that the IDEAL festival-going hot-weather outfit is a strapless top, elasticated shorts, a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and a wrap which you can sit on when your legs get tired and put around your shoulders after the sun goes down.

Shoes are more problematic: you need something sturdy and comfortable which you won’t get sweaty in. I wore Crocs, but I am the only person I know who looks good in Crocs, and the only reason I think I look good in them is that I never on any account look at them once they’re on. I just revel in the squish of the tread and the swish of the air as it cools my toes. The real answer is probably flip-flops on soft grass and light plimsolls on rough grass. But I will leave that to your discretion.

Sorry for only talking about girls’ clothes. I have no advice for boys, although the hat and sunscreen rules are unisex. If you are a boy, I suggest you dress like this:

dancing man in bandana

I have left the most important rule, not including the sunscreen one, until last. The most important rule, not including the sunscreen one, is:

6. Wear whatever you like. It’s a festival! Go wild.

Advent song for December 17

I had no plans to include this song, but it popped into my head this morning and hasn’t left, so here it is.  I don’t think I’d ever seen the video, but I like it very much because everybody in it seems so happy.  Whatever you think about Paul and Linda, I think they were very much in love, and you can see it here.  Also, I like that the “choir of children” is actually them.  It reminds me of the story Paul told about auditioning children to voice the part of Rupert in the full-length video for We All Stand Together, and all of them were so rubbish that he ended up doing it himself.