Advent song for December 16: Stop The Cavalry

This is a much jauntier seasonal “soldiers missing their loved ones” song than I’ll Be Home For Christmas (are there any other examples?). I think I’d probably listened to it about a hundred times before I noticed the lyrics are quite sad. But you can’t argue with that cymbal clash at 01.44, rivalled in its dramatic brilliance only (and barely) by Ringo’s boom, ba-doom, badoom-ba-doom-doom on He blew his mind out in a car (which is a weird lyric itself, now that I think about it).

Happy Thursday!

December 21: White Christmas

This is, tragically, the last entry for this year from Ringo’s seminal 1999 album I Believe In Santa Claus, and if you thought the ones we’ve already heard had a lot of percussion, you’ve got a treat in store. There is a bit of guitar and some fun backing vocals on this, but what there mostly is is REALLY A LOT OF DRUMS, of about every type you can think of, although I don’t think there are any bongos in there, which seems like an oversight, Ringo.

I can’t believe I didn’t find this when I was scouring the internet for twenty-four different versions of White Christmas back in 2013. It is quite the oddest thing I’ve ever heard, and would have been given a novelty spot somewhere towards the beginning of the month. I am very happy now to be able to rectify the omission. Tomorrow: a Christmas single by the Beatles that is an actual song! I know!

December 18: Christmas Eve

No, I know it isn’t Christmas Eve today, but traditionally we celebrate Advent Sundays with a bit of crooning, and this is as close as Ringo gets to that. He even holds back on the drums, a bit. Not much. (But he makes up for his restraint in the first half of the song by coming in with an extended solo at about the two and a half minute mark.) This is a sweet song, though! I hope you enjoy it too.

December 12: Blue Christmas

I love the (appropriately) bluegrassy guitar on this, especially when it gets to do a solo, and I am sad that there is so little interest out there in the world in Ringo’s 1999 Christmas album that I can’t seem to find out who is playing it. The song is slightly compromised, for me, by the surprising BLART with which Ringo begins his singing. One thing I have been able to discover is that several of the tracks on this album were recorded within a single day, which is somehow unsurprising. Some of them seem to have been recorded in a single take (and not in the good way). Still, it’s worth it for the guitar, I promise.

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.

December 7: Dear Santa

So much drumming. I like this one, though, because it sounds ever so slightly like the best song from the second-best* Christmas film of all, Mud’s Lonely This Christmas. This, like last week’s Little Drummer Boy, is from Ringo’s 1999 album I Wanna Be Santa Claus – an album with which I fear we will all be better-acquainted by Christmas Eve.

*The second-best Christmas film of all is of course Bernard and the Genie, which is only slightly easier to find than the best Christmas film of all, Until The Lights Come Back, which you will only be able to watch by coming over to my house on Christmas Eve (or importing it at great expense from Hong Kong).

December 4: I Wanna Hold Your Hand

Not an actual Christmas song, this, but it was Christmas number one in the UK in 1963, so it definitely counts (and wait till you see some of the tenuous stuff I have lined up for you later in the month!). This live recording from The Ed Sullivan Show is more fun if you watch the video, since the audio is slightly shonky but the live aspect makes up for that, especially when the camera pans across to Ringo and the drums suddenly get louder, either because there was a mic attached to the camera or because he noticed they were focusing on him and started to bang harder. I hope it’s the latter.

December 2: Little Drummer Boy

Like me, you’ll be delighted to discover that of all the Beatles, the one who has recorded the largest number of Christmas songs is Ringo. Some of them are good, some of them are not, some of them are awesome, and then there’s this, which I think is actually the best version ever recorded – sorry, Bing and David – of the Little Drummer Boy, because it has SO MUCH DRUMMING. Like, imagine as much drumming as you can, and then double it, and that’s still not as much drumming as this song has. Make sure to listen all the way through, it would be a tragedy to miss the drum solos (yes, multiple), and the key changes (also multiple), and the bagpipes (just the one, although I suppose bagpipes by definition come in the plural).