Noddy Holder refers to the track as his pension scheme
The year 1973
The band Slade
The song Merry Xmas Everybody
Back in ‘73 there were two bands who released Christmas themed songs about the same time. So began the contest for Christmas Number One, covered in an earlier post. Personally, I might prefer the other one:
‘I wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ by Wizzard (song titles at the time were pretty self-explanatory).
But to each their own.
The tracks are fairly similar but do differ in a few key areas. Namely, the Slade one has Noddy Holder shouting “It’s Christmas!”, which is always better than any other Christmas song. No other tune can match it for purity.
Also, Slade explicitly tells everyone to look into the future as it’ll be much brighter than the mid 70s. Fewer fuel crises, less austerity, more peace in the Middle East, perhaps?
At least there isn’t a fuel crisis just now.
Slade didn’t want to do a Christmas song. It was cobbled together from one of those riderless riffs that bands compose but can’t think of what to do. Mostly at the behest of their manager. Today’s entry in the Christmas Jukebox series is about motivation.
Many people are cynical about Christmas. In the field of Christmas songs, it’s easy to see why. They all seem like fairly shameless cash grabs from a certain angle. If they are a new recording of a traditional carol, it’s great as there is no writer to be paid. If they are original, it’s great as a long-term investment – for example, The Darkness didn’t get all of their sales for ‘Christmas Time’ the year it came out, it’s been slow-growing and bolstered by inclusion on various compilations. Point is, somebody is raking it in from Christmas songs. It all depends on time. Most of these songs are not written, recorded and released solely for a love of Christmas, they are for currency.
I wonder why the same people who are cynical about Christmas economic activity are not equally cynical about all economic activity, given that it’s all essentially somebody doing something for money. But please excuse this temporary Marxist undertone.
I totally get it. Everyone seems a bit unsure about artists making money. To the extent that many are having a real problem these days as everybody wants to pay for art in “exposure”. Way I see it, though, part of art is making something that other people like and want to get behind. One part of getting behind is people saying how much much they love it. Another more tangible way of getting behind art is money.*
If you measure art in terms of money made, an ideal place to look is Noddy Holder. He apparently gets half a million pounds a year in royalties. Not too shabby.
This song means a lot more to British people than money. For me it’s a nice link to my childhood. When I hear this song I can see my granny’s face. She always spent Christmas with us. She loved us very deeply.
Remembering her is sometimes painful, but I’m told that’s just life after death for those that continue.
Christmas songs, then, can be this connection to the past. They can stir memories often left undisturbed for some time.
All cynicism left to one side, these songs have made some of their writers pretty wealthy for good reason. They can act as important emotional links to the past. They made something good and original and it’s become part of the structure of Christmas. They also celebrate that the future will be brighter, a sentiment sorely needed after this year.
My excitement is building rapidly.
*Although I am more of an enthusiastic amateur in this writing game, this saves me from the pain of marketing AND means I don’t need to beg and cajole people for money very often.
The writer of this piece started writing about one thing, switched to another, then another following a brief moment of honesty. He is pretty good at analysing his own writing but less good at editing it after. A lot more content with 1 complete work versus 20 imperfect, unfinished drafts.