The first Beatles Christmas fan-club disc to be recorded separately, the 1968 offering is a collage of odd noises, musical snippets, and individual messages. McCartney’s song “Happy Christmas, Happy New Year” is featured, along with John’s poems “Jock and Yono” and “Once Upon a Pool Table.” Also notable is a rendition of “Nowhere Man” by the ukulele-playing Tiny Tim. Also included is a sped-up snippet of the Beatles’ own “Helter Skelter” and a brief snippet of Perrey & Kingsley’s “Baroque Hoedown” which was used three years later in Disneyland’s Main Street Electrical Parade. “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” and “Birthday” are also heard in the background for part of the message.The dialogue and songs for the flexi-disc were organised and edited together by DJ and friend of the Beatles, Kenny Everett.
The final Beatles Christmas offering was also recorded separately, as the band had effectively split by this point. It features an extensive visit with John and Yoko at their Tittenhurst Park estate, where they play “what will Santa bring me?” games. Harrison only appears briefly, and Starr only shows up to plug his recent film, The Magic Christian. Paul sings his original ad-lib, This is to Wish You a Merry, Merry Christmas. Starting at 1:30, at the tail-end of Ringo’s song, the guitar solos from The End are heard, followed by Yoko interviewing John.
The song Jingle Bells is sung, followed by individual messages to the fans. John mocks the prepared statement, doing an imitation of Paul Harvey and includes his own pseudo-words and ad-libbing. When Paul asks him if he wrote this himself, he says, “No it’s somebody’s bad hand-wroter. It’s been a busy year Beople peadles, one way and another, but it’s been a great year too. You fans have seen to that. Page two … Thanks a lot folks and a happy-er Christmas and a Merry Grew Year. Crimble maybe.” The statement is apparently handwritten as at various points in the recording, Paul reads “making them” as “melting them” before correcting himself and George reads “quite a time” as “quiet time” before correcting himself with “great time” as well. Finishing up the record is a brief rendition of the traditional song “Oh Can You Wash Your Father’s Shirt?”
Several off-key, a cappella versions of Yesterday are dispersed throughout the record, alongside Lennon’s Happy Christmas to Ya List’nas, Auld Lang Syne, a one-and-a-half-line version of the Four Tops’ It’s the Same Old Song, which they quickly stop before they violate the copyright, and an original poem titled Christmas Comes But Once a Year. A second version of Auld Lang Syne segues messily into a cover of Barry McGuire’s Eve of Destruction. I find this both funny and interesting and my favorite among the Christmas records.
Here are 10 wonderful cover versions, some even better than the original version..
The White Stripes – Jolene (Dolly Parton) – Live @ Conan
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – Whipping Post (The Allman Brothers Band)
Recorded between sessions for Strawberry Fields Forever, for the 1966 offering, the usual greetings and thanks gave way to a ‘Pantomime’-themed collection of original songs and dramatic skits. The songs include Everywhere It’s Christmas, Orowainya, and Please Don’t Bring Your Banjo Back. Paul McCartney plays the piano. The sketches performed include Podgy the Bear and Jasper and Felpin Mansions.