Festive Folkiness

Tired of Wizzard and Cliff? Here’s some alternative festive fare….

Scientific studies show that nobody can bear to listen to any of the standard Christmas pop hits (Slade, Band Aid etc) after 9am on Boxing Day. But here we are, still in bloody Christmas, so what to do on a musical Sunday? The answer is to seek alternative festive offerings. Here are four of a folky bent.

Jethro Tull’s Ring Out Those Solstice Bells, odd though it is, just about qualifies as one of those Christmas standards, in that it features in the lower regions of those many Now That’s What I Call the Bestest Mega Xmas Party Ever-style compilations. However, their Christmas Song does not, probably because the lyric is not very jolly:

Once in Royal David’s City stood a lowly cattle shed,
where a mother laid her baby.
You’d do well to remember the things He later said.
When you’re stuffing yourselves at the Christmas parties,
you’ll laugh when I tell you to take a running jump.
You’re missing the point I’m sure does not need making;
that Christmas spirit is not what you drink.

So how can you laugh when your own mother’s hungry
and how can you smile when the reasons for smiling are wrong?
And if I messed up your thoughtless pleasures,
remember, if you wish, this is just a Christmas song

Ideal for a Christmas hangover…

A much less hectoring sentiment can be found in the Carol of the Field-Mice (‘Joy Shall Be Yours in the Morning’), words penned by Kenneth Grahame for The Wind in the Willows. You can find several choral different arrangements on Youtube, but I like this 2012 one by English folkie Bella Hardy, which uses the melody composed by Keith Hopwood and Malcolm Rowe for the wonderful 1983 Cosgrove Hall animated film (which featured David Jason as Toad – his finest performance in my view)…

BeauSoleil are a band from LaFayette, Louisiana, formed in the mid 1970s and still going. This is Christmas music, Cajun-style: Papa St Nick

The 2008 eponymous debut album of Fleet Foxes is a timeless masterpiece, the beauty and depth of which only becomes more impressive with untiring repeated listenings. White Winter Hymnal has a a mysterious one-verse lyric that conjures a Bruegel-like scene, perfect as we exit Xmas and enter the bleak midwinter…

I was following the pack all swallowed in their coats
With scarves of red tied ’round their throats
To keep their little heads
From falling in the snow
And I turned ’round and there you go
And Michael, you would fall
And turn the white snow red as strawberries in the summertime

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About Author Profile: Brit

'Brit' is the blogging name of Andrew Nixon, a writer and publisher who lives in Bristol. He is the editor and co-founder of The Dabbler.