Musical Advent Calendar: December 13

I have it on good authority that today’s selection for the Musical Advent Calendar will be remembered by those of you who grew up in the UK in the 70s. I don’t remember this track making any waves here in the US, but I was listening to the Muppets at the time, so what do I know? Based on the universal source of record for all things, Wikipedia, I learned that this 1978 cover of “Mary’s Boy Child/Oh My Lord” by Boney M is “one of the best-selling singles of all time in the UK.”

Here’s a dose of disco Christmas:


Musical Advent Calendar: December 12

Today’s song is from 1975, and it’s from everyone’s favorite under-appreciated rock band, Big Star.

This is “Jesus Christ,” from their brilliant Third/Sister Lovers album.

I couldn’t embed the video of the studio version (you can view it here on youtube: ), but here’s a live version from 2010 with Mike Mills and Ken Stringfellow of REM on vocals.

Musical Advent Calendar: December 10

What would the holiday season be without this gem wherein a neighborly David Bowie mistakes Bing Crosby for the new butler or perhaps “the poor relation from America,” then  proceeds to sing  a little duet?  It’s the endearing and awkward “Little Drummer Boy”/”Peace on Earth” mashup with footage from Bing Crosby’s televised 1977 Christmas special. 


… and here’s Will Ferrell and John C. Riley’s homage:

Musical Advent Calendar: December 4

Yes, still in the 1970s, but don’t worry, I’ll get us into something a little more current in short order. It seems fitting to follow Former Beatle John’s Christmas track with one from Former Beatle Paul, even though that’s dreadfully obvious and only slightly clever. Yet, I’ve done it anyway, because this song is also earnest and heartfelt and twee – if anything, the juxtaposition of these two Christmas songs gives further credence to argument of a Serious Beatle vs a Playful Beatle. Love it or hate it, today’s song is Paul McCartney  – “Wonderful Christmastime,” released in 1979.

Here’s an alternative for those who can no longer stomach the classic version –  I give you this fairly snappy 2012 cover by The Shins:

Musical Advent Calendar: December 3

We’re going to linger in the 1970s for a couple days, since there are more than a couple Christmas classics from that decade. Today’s offering is one that is always in danger of being a bit overplayed, but it’s earnest and heartfelt and a little twee, as befits the season. So, let’s get it out there and hope it’s early enough in the season that you’re not already sick of it.   Today’s track is  “Happy Xmas (War is Over).” I know, I know…

I do acknowledge that there is a decent chance that you might be sick of this song if you’ve started listening to any holiday music, or if you’re still mad at Yoko for some unfathomable reason.

So instead of the original, here’s one of the better covers, a 2012 live performance by Sarah McLachlan and her Music Outreach Children’s Choir and Youth Choir :

Musical Advent Calendar: December 2

Day 2 of our Musical Advent Calendar, and  we are going back into 1970s for today’s track.

If you were a kid with a record player in 1979, chances were pretty good you had (or wanted) a copy of John Denver & The Muppets: A Christmas Together. It was that year’s  must-have Christmas record, and one of my favorite tracks on that album was this calypso-tinged version of the song, “Christmas is Coming.” This one is an all-Muppet track – Miss Piggy, Scooter, Gonzo, & Robin the Frog, Kermit’s nephew.

This  whole album was in regular  rotation in our household for years over the holidays.

Musical Advent Calendar: December 1

I’ve done this once every few years and feel as though I’m well overdue to do some blogging here, so here we go with my Musical Advent Calendar. I’ll post a holiday-themed song once a day through December 25th, and blather on a bit for most of them, I’m sure.

I thought we would kick off with a song that would set the tone for our little musical journey, so today, I give you the incomparable Kate Bush singing “December Will Be Magic Again.”

Kate Bush is, and forever shall be, inexorably linked to my record store days. It was an indie CD store, one owner and one employee, me. I worked there pretty much all day, every day, oftentimes running the store by myself.

Our shop had the finest selection of imports and “rare live” albums in the area, and one could not help but become an expert working there. The store was regularly visited by quirky audiophiles hoping for the latest digitally remastered Sensational Alex Harvey Band CD or a “rare live” recording of a classic Pink Floyd show.   We only sold CDs, no vinyl, and we carried a few fanzines and other imported ephemera, like Melody Maker or NME. I basically had a job where I sat around and listening to music of my choosing, while talking about music all day and helping people find music. Kind of the best job ever, really, at least back in the day. The rise of the Internet pretty effectively crushed that option for everyone, but that’s a different topic. Let’s get back to Kate.

When it came to Kate Bush, our store had the best selection of all things Kate in perhaps not just Northeastern Ohio, but in the whole state. Signed posters on the walls dedicated to the owner, more Kate Bush rare live imports than you knew existed, current and back copies of Homeground, the classic Kate Bush fanzine – you name it, we had it or we could get it for you. If the owner was working, there was an 85% chance of hearing Kate when you walked into the store. I mean, not only was it a lot of Kate to be exposed to, it meant a lot of exposure to other Kateophiles. I had to become fluent in the ways of Kate, and the more time one spends listening to Ms. Bush, the more one can appreciate, and quite possibly become deeply enthusiastic about “our Kate.”

“December Will Be Magic Again” was one of those elusive Kate Bush tracks that was really hard to track down for a long time.  A single released in 1980, this wasn’t available on CD until the 1990 release of the Kate Bush box set, This Woman’s Work (it also included “Under the Ivy,” another rare KB gem). I played this track a lot that year, and we sold a lot of copies of that box set. It’s definitely a good one to start us off.