FolkWords Blog

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  1. Much as I try to deny it, with passing years I bear an increasing resemblance to the title character of ‘Santa Claus - The Movie’. Somewhere in the middle of the film, where Tim Allen is ‘changing’ into Santa, it could well be me. Although those that know me will agree a certain physical similarity with the ‘jolly fellow’ I don’t possess his sunny disposition. And it’s this time of year that exaggerates that trait.

    I’ll explain. When did your local radio begin playing ‘seasonal songs? Your shopping centre start exuding Christmas songs? This week, last week? Well a shopping centre near me surpassed themselves this year with Christmas displays in late October and piped Christmas music in early November. The deluge increased with illuminated snowflakes, seasonal ‘special offers’, whole aisles dedicated to cards until every outlet plays ‘Christmas music’.

    Now, I’m not an advocate of the Ebenezer Scrooge School of celebration. I love Christmas - family, friends, festivities - but does the ‘festive season’ have to begin months ahead of the date with an outpouring of ‘Christmas music’? Which prompts another question - why the compulsion to make ‘Christmas records’? Of course, there are some memorable, some half-way decent, some tolerable but the majority are absolute howlers. Yet every year various artists launch themselves on the Christmas record bandwagon and millions of us are subjected to their outpourings.

    Among the memorable are the folk-tinged ‘Fairytale of New York’, ‘Gaudette’ and ‘In Dulci Jubilo’, along with ‘Stop the Cavalry’, ‘I Believe in Father Christmas’ and ‘2000 Miles’. The half-way decent include ‘A Winter's Tale’, the surprising ‘Stay Another Day’ and ‘Christmas Wrapping’; then there’s the almost tolerable ‘A Spaceman Came Travelling’, ‘When a Child Is Born’ and even the camped up ‘Christmas Time (Don't Let the Bells End)’.

    Naturally, there are also the hoary old chestnuts of constant fare such as the venerable ‘White Christmas’ plus ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’, ‘Lonely This Christmas’, ‘Do They Know It's Christmas?’ and ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ - songs that despite their actual release date seem to have been around for hundreds of years.

    Fair enough I suppose, but why do the absolute howlers endure? And why does everywhere persist in playing them. Oh how I hate the tedious ‘Last Christmas’, the sickly sweet ‘Mistletoe and Wine’ and the cringingly awful ‘Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy.

    Never mind, it’s all going to be over by 2 January and we can prepare ourselves for the onslaught of jolly summer holiday songs and travel agent adverts. And for those that live for tinsel and trees, it will only seem like the blink of an eye before it all comes round again. Then again, maybe Ricky Tomlinson summed it all up to perfection with ‘Christmas My Arse’.

  2. Without delving deeply into too many practical lexicographic tomes a song is broadly a composition for voice or voices. It may be accompanied by musical instruments, or it may be unaccompanied, as in a cappella form. Lyrics are typically poetic or rhyming but can equally be free prose. The only real proviso is that people equipped with the required human auditory system can hear them – so why are some lyrics recorded so far back in the mix that they become inaudible or at best indistinct?

  3. If you’re going to listen to the band – then listen to the band. However, if you want to discuss last night’s television then kindly move the hell away from me, or better yet go out to the car park and talk all you like. There can be little more irritating than having people chatting loudly throughout a live set – not just for those trying to listen but also for the band trying to perform. 

  4. This may well be the worst summer for years (although the ‘record-breaking scorchers’ of my youth seem to be nothing more than rose-tinted memory). We might experience month’s worth of rain in hours (although if developers continually build on flood plains ... but that’s another story). And despite the collective wishes of the populace praying for a half-way decent end to the summer months, the forecasts do not bode well. Despite all that what is this seemingly endless media need to report cancellations, closures and disasters as though they are recording some sort of trophy?

  5. There's a certain caution in the air when the month of March in England slowly tempers winter chill into ‘warm, dry and sunny’. The English, who are frequently seduced by their climate, are more used to cold, wind and rain - and even the occasional covering of snow during March. The reason for the caution is the unpredictability of the English weather and the fact that if you don’t like the weather, wait a day or two and it will change.

  6. Of course this isn't folk music so why are you here? Great way to start a conversation. However, perseverance is no bad quality so we persisted. The mere fact that we write about fok music in all its various guises - and this is not the time for the 'definitions' debate, you can find reams of copy about that elsewhere on FolkWords - does not preclude us from listening to a wide variey of music. Nor does it mean we can't sidle, often incognito, in a wide variety of gigs.