Welcome to a weekly feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie, coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving Dad. Who is also seriously into his fitness. You can find him on the blog (mostly) on Sundays. Enjoy!
My 5 Favourite Christmas Songs
I love music and I love Christmas, so I should love Christmas songs right? Wrong. I hate most Christmas songs because they’re so often just a way for a band (or record label, let’s be honest) to cash in on one of my favourite things. It’s about the definition of cynical in my book and it makes my blood boil.
That being said, in amongst all that horrific manufactured nonsense there are a few tunes that still perk me up when I’m following my wife round the shops and these are them.
1. Happy Christmas (War Is Over ) – Plastic Ono Band
It’s staggering to consider the output of the Beatles during the duration they were releasing records, from pop heart throbs to the leaders of a counter culture revolution, and it was that drive for change that inspired Happy Christmas – War Is Over. The song, in terms of arrangement, is undoubtedly ticking all the Christmas boxes, choirs, harmonies, sleigh bells, but’s the message I love. War (in this case Vietnam) can be over if you want it to be, we can have peace. A simple reminder that there’s no need to blame or rage, we can be at peace if we choose to me. It probably sounds naive 40 years on when we’re still at war and less able to get along than we ever were but to me, this song speaks right to the meaning of Christmas, we can have peace, if we choose. In the most literal sense this song makes the hairs on my arms stand up.
2. Live Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas
Ok, there are some silly aspects to this song. You do get snow in Africa, here are huge Christian communities and so they do know it’s Christmas (yes, I realise it’s a metaphor). But put all that aside, this is an amazing record. Every penny from Live Aid has gone to charity, think about that for a second, every radio play, every concert, all totally donated. Some people saw some genuinely awful stuff and rather than changing the channel or unfollowing it they thought about what they could do to affect positive change. More than that this record reflects a time when people did try and change the world for the better. It’s easy to look at the people now and find them annoying and preachy but getting down to brass tacks, they made a song that’s not at all bad and it helped truckloads of people. 10 out of 10 for Christmassing there people.
3. The Darkness – Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)
This is my favourite straight up Christmas song. Like everything the Darkness do it’s as mad as a hedge with a coked up Justin Hawins squealing a falsetto at some girl in a bauble, it’s utter cheese but it’s cheese done right. The Darkness were and are an epic band for people who want guitar heroes and at some point they sat down and wrote the ultimate Christmas rock song and, like everything they do, they did it right. Bells, harmonised guitars, open fires, insane Christmas perfection at its most opulent.
4. Rage Against The Machine – Killing In The Name
It had become a tradition that whatever the X factor manufactured would be Christmas number 1. Now, I don’t care about the charts but it did seem a it like we’d sold Christmas to Simon Cowell and that did make me sad. That is until some wag on the internet suggested that everyone buy Killing In The Name instead. It’s probably the best known track from Rage Against The Machine’s eponymous first album and it tells a story of conspiracy within the police in relatively blunt terms. However, the central refrain ‘F*ck You I Won’t Do What You Tell Me’ could not have been more apt. It was a beautiful poke in the eye for the plastic folks like Cowell and while I won’t be playing it as I carve the turkey (because Rage Against the Machine are banned in our houser as Logan is already radicalised enough) it’s a fitting addition to this list.
5. Neds Atomic Dustbin
Originally I hail from Wolverhampton and while I live there no longer, the rich legacy of midlands’ bands is something I’m always grateful for. The Neds, in particular were local heros and would play their final gig of the year just before Christmas at Wolverhampton Civic Hall. We loved the Civic as we could go there, drink and listen to loud music, which, if you’ve spent your life in a farming village is a pretty amazing way to spend your evenings. The Neds never disappointed (unless you include their refusal to play biggest hit ‘Kill Your Television’) and whenever I hear ‘Happy’ I’m transported back to December evenings listening to ace music and hoping I don’t get ID checked for Guinness or Marlboro Lights.