From 1963 to 1969, members of the official Beatles fan club were treated to a special Christmas record every December. And as the Fab Four drifted from mop-top pop to pioneering psychedelic grooves, those festive recordings got progressively stranger.
Enter the 1968 release, which included bizarre highlights like
- Paul McCartney singing a holiday song in honor of Christmas, New Year's and Michealmas;
- John Lennon narrating the story of 'Jock and Yono' — two amorous balloons whose lives parallel Lennon's relationship with Yoko Ono;
- Ringo Starr having a drunken altercation with himself;
- and George Harrison inviting Tiny Tim to belt out a high-pitched rendition of 'Nowhere Man.'
So how did the Fab Four get there? Well, scroll down to check out The Beatles' other records made in honor of Christmas — or Crimble, to use Beatle slang.
The first Christmas record was also the most candid. After singing a goofy rendition of 'Good King Wenceslas,' the boys take stock of everything that's happened in the last year as they rose from local celebrities in Liverpool to superstardom across Britain.
"This time last year we were all dead chuffed because 'Love Me Do' had gotten into the top 20," a grateful Lennon said. "And we can't believe so many things have happened in between!"
But despite that success, they were still preoccupied with money, as evidenced by Paul giving a special shoutout to people who had renewed their fan-club subscription.
"I'll finish now with wishing everyone Happy Crimble and a Merry New Year — especially all the ones who paid a subscription."
The group was absolutely giddy at the rise to international fame in the second record as they recalled the many countries they'd visited over the last year. But Lennon nevertheless sounded uneasy with fame as he mocked the script prepared for the record and chafed under the pressure to plug his books.
"Thanks all of you who bought me book...it was very handy. And there's another one out pretty soon, it says here. Hope you buy that too. It'll be the usual rubbish, but it won't cost much, you see. That's the bargain we're going to strike up. I write them in my spare time, it says here. It's been a busy year...Beatle Peedles, one way or another, but it's been a great year too. You fans have seen to that. Page two, thanks a lot folks, and a happy, uh, Christmas."
The third Christmas record began with a false start as the disinterested group rambled through a script with jokes that ranged from corny (weather updates from inside the studio) to grotesque (tips for slicing human babies into lunch meat, which would later inspire the controversial cover for the 'Yesterday and Today' album).
The nattering goes on for over seven and a half minutes before a thoughtful Lennon asks, "Has anyone mentioned Christmas yet?"
"We could certainly mention it on the next record," Paul quips.
After 12 aimless minutes, they decided to scrap the whole thing.
But fan-club members didn't go without a Crimble record that year. The boys later regrouped to press a simpler holiday greeting.
The next recording was much more upbeat, kicking off with the rollicking carol 'Everywhere It's Christmas.' Then The Beatles took turns narrating a loose Christmas story that blended English pantomime with vaudeville, offering fans ludicrous settings, ridiculous characters and slapstick comedy (supplied by sound effects).
The fifth festive record began with a polished tune called 'Christmastime Is Here Again,' which sounds like a fully produced track. Too bad it quickly gets cut off by another bizarre story, which sounded like a deranged television programmer trying to piece together an evening broadcast after taking eating his own weight in LSD.
The seeds of discontent were in full bloom on the final record, where each Beatle recorded his bit separately and sent it into the studio to be stitched together. The finished product might as well be called 'The Lennon Family Christmas' since newlyweds John and Yoko dominate the record with mock interviews, a Christmas jam and a strange skit where they play mother and son.
In contrast, George Harrison's contribution runs for only 6 seconds, and Ringo's is less than a minute, which is mostly spent plugging his upcoming solo film 'The Magic Christian' (co-starring Peter Sellers). And Paul tries to revive the old spirit of the records by singing a holiday greeting accompanied by an acoustic guitar.
h/t Rolling Stone