(Part of a Xmas music series) By Alan L. Chrisman
The Beatles recorded short Xmas messages especially for their Fan Club members. They were originally only available on flexi-discs and only in the U.K. They were a mixture of skits, fractured holiday songs, and a few brief snippets of some original compositions. Their statements were usually written by their press officer, Tony Barrow, but the boys would often make fun of the written script, and just mess around for their loyal fans, with the Beatles’ characteristic off-the-wall humour.
The first one was recorded in 1963 and the last one was in ’69. They also used them to plug their latest single or album or film, but did so in a self-deprecating way, sometimes singing little parts of their latest songs, as well as made-up Xmas tunes. In the 1965 message, they sing an off-key, “Yesterday” and in ’66, they sing a short original, “Everywhere It’s Christmas” and perform a Beatles’ pantomime skit. Tiny Tim sings “Nowhere Man” with a ukulele in 1968. But by the final one in ‘69, with The Beatles basically falling apart, it was mainly John & Yoko, with Ringo promoting his Magic Christian film. Most of the earlier years’ recordings weren’t available in the U.S., even to U.S. Fan Club members.
Finally in 1970, all the individual years’ messages were compiled on one vinyl record (From Then to You in the U.K. and called The Beatles’ Xmas Album in the U.S.) and other fans could finally get their own copy. There were only a couple semi-completed original songs, such as “Christmas Time (Is Here Again)” and “ Everywhere It’s Xmas”, from the 1966 and ‘67 messages, and “Christmas Time” was later added to the other side of the “Free as a Bird” single and was on The Beatles’ Anthology in ’95. They were really just The Beatles having fun and using inventive word play and making up things in the studio, but well worth listening to, if you haven’t heard them, especially for the holidays.
The Beatles doing, “Christmas Time (Is Here Again”), from Beatles’ Xmas message, 1967:
The Beatles doing, “Everywhere It’s Xmas”, from the 1966 message: