In this seventh edition of ‘Monday’s Musical Musings’ and as a way of offering some festive cheer, we asked a range of staff what their favourite carol or Christmas song is, and why they listen to it over the festive period. Here is what they said…
I am torn between three Christmas songs because it depends on my mood. For nostalgia, I would say ‘Somewhere in my Memory’ from the Home Alone Soundtrack – nothing quite beats the orchestral swell in the final shot as Macaulay Culkin looks out on the snowy suburbs. I also managed to get this song into the finale of ‘Wendy and Peter Pan’ just for my own amusement! Secondly, for a slightly more spiritual lift, ‘O Holy Night’. It’s a real belter, especially with a glass of fizz in one hand, mic in the other and the lyrics up on the screen. My partner just rolls his eyes every Christmas. And finally, for those who know me well… the most annoyingly catchy Christmas song – ‘Once Upon a Christmas Song’ by Geraldine (aka Peter Kay). Honestly, pure unashamed joy! You’ll be singing it over and over and over again….
I would certainly go for ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ by Chris Rea. I love the voice and my sister does a great cover. We used to drive a fair bit over the Christmas break, going back and forth to the family house on the Welsh coast and this song sounds stronger over a Td5 engine note.
My choice would be ‘Winter Winds’ by Mumford and Sons. It is a song for Christmas but not about Christmas. You can legitimately listen to it in October without people giving you strange looks – in fact, all the time actually thinking about Christmas.
My favourite is ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ by Shakin Stevens. It reminds me of when I was growing up and used to go Christmas shopping in Malta where Christmas music is blaring through the speakers in the street. It always cheered me up and I did not mind singing along to this one when it came on, which was quite frequent. Nowadays, when this comes on, my daughter and I just stop what we are doing and start dancing to it!
It strikes me that this time of year is often so frantic that we need a little stillness, and the festival of nine lessons and carols from King’s College at 15:00 on Radio 4 on Christmas Eve gives me a little of that. As a former student at King’s College School Cambridge, I feel a connection with the Chapel and the event. I listen every year and think of all the people around the world stopping, feeling and reflecting together at the same time. I think of my own Christmases past, present and future.
‘In the bleak Mid-Winter’ by Holst gently pushes back on the jolly holly cool yule mince pie stuffing ho ho ho-ing jollity which seems to pervade the ‘holiday season’. The words of the hymn are so beautifully crafted and the essence of the lyric is conveyed by the rhythm and tone of the words, not just their outright meanings. I love the way the rhythm of the music moves awkwardly towards the crescendo as we might ourselves if we also were journeying to that stable so long ago. In that way the whole feel of the song connects me to the ordinary people involved in the nativity story that we should identify with but so often overlook. It seems to me that this is a piece of music about the humility, strength and significance of the individual in the face of world changing events – something we could all do with a little of at this time.
One of my favourites is ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ by Slade. It is loud and great to sing and dance to. Everyone was singing it at every disco near Christmas for years. It means Christmas is coming. It made my mother laugh and think of my sister and I dancing around the living room!