I know you’ll hate this subject – don’t worry, most people do – as this is one in a never-ending series of (hopefully) motivational articles that’ll help you with your creative writing skills.
Before I get into my pretentious drivel about motivation and narratives, do me a favour and read the top ten list I’ve shown. Yes, yes, I know it’s nowhere near Christmas but put that to one side and read it through.
Hardly Shakespearean is it? And that’s the point. It wasn’t meant to be a work of art, it wasn’t created to win the Booker prize for literary effort, it was written because I wanted to do it to please myself. I’d seen a few friends of mine on Facebook asking about their all-time favourite Christmas track and as I couldn’t actually find ‘the one’, I decided to list my all-time favourite top ten.
However, as I was listing them, I decided to ‘put a little meat on the bone’, (literally), as to why I’d chosen the ten that I had. You know what? It wasn’t that difficult. I wrote how I felt, what the songs meant to me and why they were so memorable. I wasn’t writing to impress, I wasn’t writing to ask if others thought my choices were okay, it was straight forward personal indulgence that was fun, enjoyable and ultimately rewarding.
Of course, you may not agree with the tracks I’ve chosen themselves, that’s fair enough, but for the purposes of looking at it in context, see the list as a fun piece that’s not afraid of humour, irony and exaggeration that’s first and foremost very personal and involving.
As I said in the title, this is part one of many, many articles I’ll be sharing on this subject, as I know how tricky it can be for such a lot of you.
All I want you to do is take away a single-minded thought from this, namely: whatever and whenever you write, make sure that you enjoy the process. . Write about things that affect you, write about things you enjoy, write about things that make you laugh or make you cry, write about the things that come from your head and from your heart. Don’t overthink it, just do it. You’ll be surprised how easy it is.
Top Ten Christmas Classics – Ho, ho, ho.
10: Maria Carey – All I Want for Christmas is You
Okay, so she’s ballooned up and looks like an over-dressed, overstuffed turkey, and judging by her most recent concerts, she’s apparently lost her octave busting range, but putting that aside, this surely, is her finest moment. A joyously infectious, bop-along Christmas classic, created to melt the most frozen of ‘bah-humbug’ cold hearts.
9: Chris Rea – Driving Home for Christmas
Way-ay-pet. Good old gravelled-voiced Chris plonks us firmly in the passenger seat as he puts his foot down on the way back to the warmth of hearth and home, probably back ‘oop North. Sod the traffic, balls to the pelting rain and pity the fool that gets in his way. This gorgeous track is simply majestic stuff from one of Middlesbrough’s finest exports.
8: The Pogues and Kirsty McColl – A Fairy tale of New York
On paper this collaboration borders on insane. The result however shows that professional piss-artists can, when the stars align, produce work of unrivalled seasonal genius. Perhaps the most un-Christmas, Christmas song here, it nevertheless provides a memorable backdrop to this season of over consumption. Here’sh to you guysh, cheershhhhh…*hic*
7: Greg Lake – I Believe in Father Christmas
Famed bass plank-spanker for concept-loving, triple album making, prog-rockers, E.L.P, Greg steps out of the shadows and effortlessly delivers three odd minutes of seasonal genius. A truly magical melody combined with inspired lyrics that bring out the man-child in all of us. Nice one Greg, and yes mate, like you, I do believe in Father Christmas.
6: Band Aid – Do They Know it’s Christmas
I hate what it’s become and the baggage it carries, but can’t stop myself from thinking about that skin-tingling moment when I first heard it. This record sums up the best and worst of the 1980’s. Altruism and conspicuous consumption colliding head-on, in a defining, four-minute guilt trip, aimed squarely at us. Beyond Bob’s nagging, I bet there are very few people on earth who don’t know the lyrics to this song. Go on, play it again and enjoy it for what it was, a glorious and never to be repeated, moment in musical time. Stupendous in every way.
5: Nat ‘King’ Cole – Silent Night
Silky, smoky, superb, smooth, supreme. I’ve given up on the superlatives that try to sum up this man’s voice. How about heavenly? Given I’ve chosen his version of this classic carol I think heavenly is perhaps the most apt. This track, for me at least, encapsulates the true meaning of Christmas, in its oft-forgotten form. Bless you Nat, and thank you very much for this majestic slice of Yuletide bliss.
4: David Bowie and Bing Crosby – Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy
The Dame and ba-ba-ba-Bing round the piano, seasonal decorations in every direction, alarming jumpers at 11 and a pairing that came right out of ‘Believe it or Not’. Oh how the musos scoffed and sniggered and yet, listening to it, silenced those doubting Thomii almost immediately. The track then felled them with a musical right cross that knocked them off their feet, then stomped on those idiotic preconceptions for good measure. Aural ba-ba-ba-bliss..
3: Wham! – Last Christmas
This wasn’t about the song was it? It was the accompanying video that nailed it. Christmas in the snow, high in the Alps in a chalet that only millionaires could afford. Surrounded by unfeasibly pretty girls, handsome mates and high jinks a-plenty in the winter wonderland right outside the door. Face it, this is the Christmas we all aspired to and thanks to George and the other bloke, our Christmas wish was delivered on soft-focus video enabling us to live our yuletide dream, year after year. Oh, the song. Well, it’s fair to middling, but it does contain the killer boy-loses-girl-through-Christmas-party-betrayal line, “a crowded room, friends with tired eyes, I’m hiding from you, and your soul of ice…” Ouch.
2: Dean Martin – Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!
Dean was the consummate King of Cool before the moniker had even been thought of. A guy who simply didn’t give a damn and yet, his effortless swing brings a joy and warmth to this Tin Pan Alley classic. Sure, most of the Rat Packers covered it, but none in my opinion, as wonderfully as this. So, take off your snow-flecked coat, sit yourself down by the roaring fire, and let the swaggering tones of Dino transport you and your loved ones to a Christmas heaven that’s all your own.
1: Nat ‘King’ Cole – The Christmas Song
I can’t create words that’ll match the bliss of this song flowing into your ears, so sing along with these lyrics to my all time favourite Christmas song.
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yule-tide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos
Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe
Help to make the season bright
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight
They know that Santa’s on his way
He’s loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh
And every mother’s child is gonna spy
To see if reindeer really know how to fly
And so I’m offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two
Although it’s been said many times, many ways
Merry Christmas to you
It’s pure perfection, isn’t it?