Tag Archives: 1973

CSOTD 12/31/16: Wizzard in winter

It’s time to end our Christmas Song of the Day feature for another year. Including today, I have featured 93 different songs, the majority of which don’t get the love from Christmas radio stations that they deserve. I’ve heard from several people that they’ve made playlists based on my selections, and at least one person who circulates an annual Christmas mix to friends has used some of my choices. I thank all of you for listening and reading the past three years.

I love most aspects of the Christmas season, and my song for December 31 is a reflection of how I feel about it – “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday.”

British singer Roy Wood was one of the founders of the band called The Move, which had some success in the U.K., but never broke through in the U.S.  Late in The Move’s life, Wood and one of his fellow band members, Jeff Lynne, came up with the idea for Electric Light Orchestra, which would meld classical instruments with rock. Part of the inspiration behind ELO was to be able to reproduce the later songs of the Beatles in a concert setting. After one album, Wood left ELO because of creative differences with Lynne; ELO went on to become one of the most popular groups of the 1970s and early 1980s.

As for Wood, he formed a band he called Wizzard with a couple members of the original ELO, an ex-member of The Move, and several others. His goal was to emulate Phil Spector’s famous Wall of Sound in a concert atmosphere, and at first, he succeeded. Right out of the box, Wizzard had two #1 singles in the U.K., “See My Baby Jive” and “Angel Fingers.”

Just in time for the Christmas season of 1973, Wizzard recorded “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday.” It got to #4 in the British charts, but it was overwhelmed by Slade’s slab of holiday cheer, “Merry Xmas Everybody.” Regardless, it became a perennial, as it has made the British pop charts in 12 different years. It was a different story in the U.S.: The single wasn’t officially released here at all, though a white-label test pressing is known to exist.

In the years since, the song has been covered regularly by British artists, but rarely by Americans. An exception is the 2010 version by Wilson Phillips from their album Christmas in Harmony. Their cover, which was probably the first time most Americans had heard the song, was a Top 20 hit on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart that Christmas season.

Though common in England, the Wizzard version is quite rare in the States. Steve Van Zandt included it on his Little Steven’s Underground Garage Presents Christmas A-Go-Go compilation CD in 2008, and that might be the only time it’s ever been released on an American compact disc.

 

Advertisements

CSOTD 12/10/2015: No Christmas cheer

My Christmas Song of the Day for December 10 used to be much better known, but it’s all but disappeared from the airwaves these days.

In 1973, Merle Haggard (born 1937) was already a well established country & western star. By the middle of that year, he had 15 #1 hits to his credit, many of them anthems to either the working class or the so-called Silent Majority, or both. His biggest hit from that period, 1969’s controversial “Okie from Muskogee,” spent four weeks at #1 on the country charts and even made some noise on the pop chart, where it got to #41 before stalling.

Just in time for Christmas of 1973, Haggard had yet another #1 country hit. Its tale of the father who’d been laid off from his job at a factory, wondering how he was going to be able to explain the lack of a “real” Christmas to his daughter, hit home for a lot of people – and not simply in the heartland, where Haggard’s fan base was. That hit, “If We Make It Through December,” became his biggest pop hit when it got to #28, the highest chart position for a Christmas-related song in the Hot 100 since Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Paper” hit #15 in 1963.

More than 40 years later, “If We Make It Through December” still has been known to ring way too true in way too many families.  Haggard has recorded it many times, both in studio and live, but here’s the original version from 1973.