Christmas Song

Album: Living In The Past (1972)

Songfacts®:

  • This song, written by Ian Anderson, is included on the compilation album (B-Sides Singles and live material) Living In The Past. With a dose of Ian's humor and sarcasm, the song takes a poke at the materialism and gluttony that surround the Christmas season.

    Anderson is not opposed to Christmas, just the parts of it that have been corrupted. In 2003, the band released The Jethro Tull Christmas Album, which contained this song along with other tracks that were either overtly ("God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen") or tangentially ("Bourée") related to the holiday. Also included on the album is "Ring Out, Solstice Bells," which celebrates the winter solstice. In an introduction to the album, Anderson writes: "I'm not exactly a practicing paid-up Christian but I have grown up and lived with a so-called Christian society for 55 years and still feel great warmth for the nostalgia, festive occasion and family togetherness, so much a part of that time of year. Maybe without Christmas we would have that much less to celebrate and enjoy in this troubled old world. But it's really all the Winter Solstice and the re-birth of nature overlaid with the common sense and righteous teachings of Mr. C.

    A Christmas in this modern world should, in my view, accommodate the leisure needs and affections of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists and agnostics, as well as Fido the family dog and Felix the cat. Throw in a few lost cousins and that dreadful man from next door and you have it! Sip the sloe gin, pull a cracker (so long as she's not the daughter of that dreadful man from next door), kiss and cuddle under the mistletoe, toss Vegan disciplines aside, gobble the turkey (steady on, now) and have a therapeutic respite from the rigors of daily life.

    Christmas – an aspirin for the soul or cold-turkey celebration of the birth and life of Christ? It has to be a measured bit of both, doesn't it?"
  • The opening lines of this song come from a Christmas hymn popular in the UK called "Once in Royal David's City":

    Once in royal David's city
    Stood a lowly cattle shed
    Where a mother laid her baby
    In a manger for his bed

Comments: 6

  • Jeff from MinneapolisI like this song a lot, as I do a lot of other Tull songs. I always get a kick out the fade where Anderson sort of whispers "Hey, Santa. Pass us that bottle will ya' ".
  • Bob Frapples from Warren, OhThis song is certainly not an anti-Christmas song, but a pro meaning song. It was not written by Ian, it was a poem by Mrs. Alexander in 1848 that was turned into a song by H.J.Gauntlett in 1849. The music and beginning were all 'borrowed', then Ian changed the latter part to signify a disdain for the commercialization of a beautiful concept.
  • Jim from Newcastle Upon Tyne, EnglandI wanted to ask if anyone is aware of a song, that was a 'b' side of a Jethro Tull '45'that had a christmas theme to it (not necessarily mentioning christmas in the title). I don't think it was entitled "A Christmas Song" but my memory may have been distorted over time. I should be grateful if anyone has any idea what song I am referring to-thanx jim
  • Mike from Hueytown , AlReading the lyrics it doesn't sound like an Anti-Christmas song to me. It sounds like they are backing up the true meaning of Christmas and denouncing all the commercialism /Santa Claus crap.
  • Peter from Newark, NyThere is also a song called 'Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow'. I have only evere found it on the first Tull Boxset. This is another rather dreary Christmas song, told first person by a panhandler about the happy revelers of the season who don't think of the less fortunate. I think it is my favorite of the Christmas songs
  • Joshua from Twin Cities, MnJethro Tull recorded yet "Another Christmas Song" for their 1989 "Rock Island" album. Unlike the original "Christmas Song", the sequel is more of a straightforward ode to the holiday.
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