The Beatles: “Christmas Time (Is Here Again)”
Today’s addition to the Reselect Christmas canon is the Beatles’ unofficial Christmas release (although it was later made “official” by its inclusion on the Beatles Anthology), “Christmas Time (Is Here Again).” It was recorded for and appeared on their 1967 year-end Beatles fan club flexi-disc. They did one of these each year, usually with some sort of Christmas message or off-the-cuff song, and in several cases a goofy sketch or two. Pretty entertaining, although pretty disposable (and if you were a member of the fan club back then, quite exciting to receive, I’m sure).
“Christmas Time (Is Here Again)” is the most finished song they did for these Christmas messages, although it still sounds only partially complete. Clearly, they didn’t mean for it to be anything more than a fun ditty for their most devoted fans (i.e., the ones who would take the time to join a fan club); nonetheless, being the Beatles, they couldn’t help but make it catchy. It’s reminiscent of some of the lighter efforts on Magical Mystery Tour or The White Album, recorded with the same sense of humor as the “Let It Be” B-side, “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)” (recorded around the same time but not released until 1970). Ringo’s “O-U-T spells ‘out'” line means absolutely nothing in the song’s context — clearly they just needed something to fill that part of the song and that was a quick fit. And the “Ain’t been ’round since you-know-when” line, at least when sung by McCartney, sounds like a melody off of his later Ram album. The track ends with John reciting one of his Lewis Carroll-esque nonsense poems, apparently Christmas-related, but really it’s kind of hard to tell what he’s saying, so we’ll just have to assume.