Greatest Christmas hits of the last 2000 years: No. 1

I Believe in Father Christmas – Greg Lake

FANFARE please! Yes, my (and Carolyn’s) all-time favourite Christmas song is Greg Lake’s one and only major solo hit. This has it all – a sample of Prokofiev’s Troika (number 24 in this countdown, if you recall), beautiful guitar work, thoughtful lyrics…

Ah, yes, the lyrics…

Not very Christmassy, are they? “They told me a fairy story, till I believed in the Israelite…” This is basically a hymn to atheism, a cynical view of Christianity and Christmas. But you can’t deny the power of the final line:

“Alleluja, Noel, be it heaven or hell

The Christmas we get, we deserve.”

So if the Christmas message has been distilled, diluted, de-religionised (is that a word? It is now), then surely Lake is simply reflecting that fact, while reminding us that we still have a responsibility to each other. Or is that reading too much into a catchy Christmas ditty?

Now, I know that whatever I chose as my number 1, many (most) readers would disagree with that choice. But look at it this way – at least it’s not Cliff Richard.




Filed under Family life

12 responses to “Greatest Christmas hits of the last 2000 years: No. 1

  1. pr roger j clementine iii cbe

    I’m getting just a little sick and FED UP with your constant promotion of Greg Lake.

    Every time I log onto this once noble blog, I’m BOMBARDED with Greg Lake songs, Greg Lake pictures, Greg Lake’s views on various conflicts throughout the world, etc.

    It’s not on anymore, Tam. PLEASE go back to the way things used to be, with virtually NO mention of Greg Lake at all.

    Till then, I shall wait, joyfully, for the day when I, and Greg Lake, boogie on down to the sounds of a Tom Harris Christmas Classic “When the bells of Christmas ring” (a cover version of the much derided Joseph C. Fitzington’s unsuccessful song).

    But, nevertheless, I wish you and your colleagues in the PLP a Christmas that can only be described as ‘happy, healthy and in which few if any tears are shed’.

    May God Bless you and keep you safe from harm, Tam.

    God bless us, everyone!



  2. I’ve been waiting up all night to see what’s no. 1 and you choose an atheist’s song?

    Or have you? Before your atheist visitors burst with excitement, according to Wikipedia:

    Although it is often categorised as a Christmas song this was not Lake’s intention. Lake wrote the song in protest at the commercialisation of Christmas.[1]

    The song is often misinterpreted as an anti-religious song and, because of this, Lake was surprised at its success. He said in a Mojo magazine interview:

    “I find it appalling when people say it’s politically incorrect to talk about Christmas, you’ve got to talk about ‘The Holiday Season.’ Christmas was a time of family warmth and love. There was a feeling of forgiveness, acceptance. And I do believe in Father Christmas.”

    As Tiny Tim said, “God bless us every one!”

  3. You’ve been waiting up all night for this? Stewart, I am genuinely humbled (and that doesn’t happen very often…)

    Have a good one.

  4. Rapunzel

    You did reassure us earlier that number one would not be Cliff, and I took your word for that.

    Earlier this evening, watching TOTP2, I had a dreadful premonition that you might go for Terry Wogan, The Little Drummer Boy and the Snowman song, at which point I would have abandoned your blog forever, but I could not believe that you would do that to us, your loyal readers.

    Have really enjoyed waiting up for each night’s choice. Many thanks for the entertainment and for going to all that trouble.

    Enjoy your Christmas with your family. Here’s to an action packed 2009!

  5. timbone

    Tom, this is indeed an excellent song, and I have myself directed choirs singing this with full instrumental accompaniment. At the same time, it has caused me grief. Greg Lake, being a classically trained musician, was well aware of that wonderful “Troika” from Prokofiev’s “Lt Kiji suite”, and very cleverly incorporated it into his song. Unfortunately, the “Troika” became a ‘Christmas tune’ for the ‘man in the street’. As a writer and publisher, I had a very well received piece combining the Beatles “From me to You” with this “Troika”. After the Greg Lake single however, the piece was shelved, because the fabulous “Troika”, where Lt Kiji is speeding over the snow in Siberia to propose to his lover, became a Christmas tune.
    The worst thing was that a certain supermarket chain had the tune included on their Christmas musak recording, along with White Christmas and other such things. So I blame Tesco.
    Asta Luego Tom.

  6. Johnny Norfolk

    Who or where is Greg Lake ? I have never heard of it.
    Come on Tom lets have a proper Christmas Carol. My favorite is ‘ In The Bleak Mid Winter’ and it just about sums up where we are after 10 years of the Blair/Brown Terror. Never was a Carol more appropriate.
    Your first choice is very dissapointing but expected.

  7. Johnny – Greg Lake was one of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, a popular beat combo in the ’70s.

    In fact, you’ve hit the nail on the head – In The Bleak Midwinter is Carolyn’s favourite carol and had asked me to include it. But I didn’t, so I’m prepared for the wrath of you both.

  8. Johnny Norfolk


    A sincere Happy Christmas to you and your family.

  9. Patchouli

    Thanks for all your excellent blogging work throughout the year, and my sincere good wishes to you and your family for a happy Christmas.

    This message is to all who write on here – chin, chin!

  10. Jay

    Happy Christmas, Tom and all the other readers of this blog!

  11. Tom – love your description of ELP! Thank you for your entertaining blogging and happy Christmas and good New Year wishes to you and yours.

  12. Paul

    It’s my favourite song, too!

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