OK, I guess yesterday confirmed that people don’t take too kindly to hardcore punk and f-worded sentiments in their Christmas cheer. Their loss.
Today, we continue on a Christmas classic buzz, albeit a much more mainstream one.
One of the great ironies of Christmas music, in the pre-internet era at least, is that the songs tended to be written and recorded in the summer, such was the lead time required to prep for a December release. English glam rockers Slade’s ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ – often incorrectly titled ‘Here it is Merry Christmas’ – is no exception, having been recorded at the tail end of the band’s 1973 summer tour of the US in a sweltering New York City in August.
The upbeat lyrical content – summed up by the line “look to the future now, it’s only just begun” – can be interpreted as more than just standard holiday season escapism. The song came about against a background of unrest in Britain’s mining and industrial heartlands and the lyrics reflected the need for a good dose of optimism. This explains why ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ is considered more than just a Christmas song in the UK. And if I can wear my Nick Butler hat for a moment, I’ll add that it was the UK’s Christmas #1 in ’73.
Slade’s recording of the song is light and bouncy with a hint of abrasion in Noddy Holder’s gravelly vocals. By contrast, the 2000 cover by Noel Gallagher of Oasis (for a Royle Family Christmas special), spins the mood completely on its head, slowing the tempo down and spitting out lines like “does your granny always tell you that the old songs were the best?” with almost a sense of resignation. It’s the polar opposite of what Holder intended, but it’s often said that a truly great lyric is one that’s vague enough to invite interpretation but specific enough to connect. That’s definitely the case here.
12 Days of Christmas: #1 – White Christmas / #2 – Popical Island / #3 – Last Christmas / #4 – Christmas in Harlem / #5 – All I Want For Christmas is You / #6 – Fuck Christmas / #7 – Merry Xmas Everybody / #8 – Ferrell & Reilly / #9 – Shit Christmas Without You / #10 / #11 / #12