Hello, happy holidays and welcome to another Beatles Rarity of the Week! This week’s BROW is in keeping with the holiday spirit and I hope it finds you in a nice and cheery mood. For the last few years I have been throwing up the fan club Christmas messages for each year’s “Christmas-BROW.”. This year is no exception and we are now up to the 1967 message which in my opinion was the most entertaining of them all.
As most of you probably know they were first issued as “flexi-discs” (or thin little flexible, plastic one-sided records) exclusively to members of The Beatles Official Fan Club sometime in December of each year between 1963 and 1969. For 1970, a compilation LP titled The Beatles Christmas Album containing all seven messages was issued on Apple to the fan club members still around after The Beatles had broken up.
The 1967 message was titled “Christmas Time Is Here Again” and a theme song was recorded of that very same title on November 28th, 1967. On the recording, it is interwoven with lots of humorous, cynical and surrealistic skits that seemed to well reflect The Beatles evolving psychedelic attitudes of the time. The song was recorded in a single take with Paul McCartney on piano duties, George Harrison strumming along on acoustic guitar, and Ringo Starr in the comfort of his drummer’s seat. John Lennon plays timpani. The Beatles sing out the title and then John, Paul and George make an effort to trade off on the lead vocals for the Ain’t been round since you-know-when line. Ringo ends each stanza by croaking out the line O-U-T spells out!! This goes through about ten iterations and ends with some final timpani and a series of piano notes. The skits took about 10 takes and after the sound effects were added and some editing was done, they were interspersed throughout the theme song (which ended up being cut down to just a few stanzas) to create the finished product.
Over the years, the theme has surfaced (without the skits) including a planned inclusion on the aborted Sessions LP (more on the Sessions LP here) that is a 1:08 edit of the song. In 1995 it appeared with a newer 2:19 edit along with some dialog by The Beatles as a b-side on the “Free As A Bird” CD single. A full version of the song without the skits heard on the fan club record has been widely bootlegged. Finally Ringo Starr did a complete remake of the song for his 1999 holiday CD I Wanna Be Santa Claus.
Extra info: Here is a transcription of John’s warm and heartfelt message at the conclusion of the record:
And Christmas time is all,
and your bonnie clay us through.
Happy breastling to you people
all out best from me to you.
When the beasty brangom button
to the heather and little inn.
And be strattened oot in matether
to yer arms once back again.
Och away, ye bonnie…
It’s been an absolute blast sharing with you some highlights from my Beatles collection this year. I thank each and every one of you for being a part of The Beatles Rarity, my web site home for this ever-growing accumulation of Beatle-lore of which many of you contribute right along with me. Fab holiday wishes go out to you all from me to you.
The music of The Beatles make great holiday gifts!
1) I Wanna Be Santa Claus – 1999 CD of holiday tunes by Ringo Starr including his remake of “Christmas Time Is Here Again.”