I love Christmas songs.
Not cheesy ones or po-faced ones like Cliff or dirges like Lennon’s yuletide atrocity. I love the joyous ones, whether it’s Noddy Holder’s roar of “It’s CHRISTMAAAAAAAS!”, Mariah’s infectious glitter or U2’s wonderful cover of Darlene Love’s transcendent Baby Please Come Home, which I genuinely believe is one of the greatest songs ever written.
So I decided to have a go at writing my own.
Didn’t Kiss You This Christmas is the result, and I think it’s brilliant.
It’s about unrequited love, as most of my songs are. It has woah-woahs in it, because Christmas songs need something you can bellow along to. There are sleigh bells, because of course there are. And there’s a lyric I’m ridiculously proud of:
We skipped between raindrops as we danced down the street
Revellers long gone, it was just you and me
We made stupid plans and we laughed till we cried
You were so beautiful
A sparkle under lights
It’s a kind of festive Perfect Day, a snapshot of an absolutely perfect, beautiful, joyous moment that I had, and wrote about, during a period of intense sadness. The fact it’s a moment is important: there’s (spoiler alert!) no happy ending here, no rom-com perfect kiss at the end of it. The girl doesn’t get the girl.
Like Perfect Day, the character is singing about a moment that’s gone, a moment when, as laughing boy Lou put it:
you made me forget myself
I thought I was someone else, someone good.
And I think that’s why it works: there’s a melancholy there.
All my favourite Christmas songs have some melancholy to them. Going back to Darlene Love:
The snow’s coming down
I’m watching it fall
lots of people around
baby, please come home
I’m getting shivers just typing that. There’s a whole world in those four simple lines. It’s beautiful, and beautifully sad.
The sadness is important. I think a good Christmas anthem needs some sadness. Not too much, or you’ve got Jonah Lewie’s Stop The Cavalry in all its parping awfulness. But the right amount of sadness is what gives it the yearning, the emotional punch. Otherwise it’s just someone with antlers on their head who’s had too much to drink jingling their bells.
My, admittedly much lesser, equivalent to Darlene Love’s lyric:
I didn’t kiss you this Christmas
but I sure wanted to
the only gift that I wanted
was to spend time with you
There’s a wee musical trick underneath that to make the final “with you” even sadder.
I really love this line too.
I don’t believe in angels, and you’re too wicked to be
in any heavenly choir but by God, you saved me
I don’t blow my own trumpet very often but trust me, I was jumping about the flat tooting like a demon when I did that one.
I hope it works for you like it does for me: the intention is to give you the image of someone wonderfully devilish (and it’s a callback to the lyric to another one of our songs, Voodoo, which was the opening track of our debut EP. I like it when bands/artists create a kind of self-contained world, with songs referencing things or people – real or imagined – that live in their other songs).
As you’ve probably guessed, I’m really proud of what we’ve done with this song. And I’m just as proud of the other songs on the EP. More about them in the next few days.