So this was completely unexpected discovery: via my good friend Scott (may his gianduia always spread smoothly), a complete collection of the special, limited edition Christmas fan-club singles which the Beatles released from 1963 to 1969. This is a small but wonder treasure for any Beatles fan, especially ones like myself who discovered their talent, genius, and whimsy much too late to have ever been on a fan club list and receive one of these usually rather goofball 7-inch singles to put under the tree. All hail the Aquarium Drunkard for assembling this delightful stuff. As he notes, its a particular delight to observe the changes in the cover art, as well as the quality and style of the Beatles' banter and music as the decade went by. (Of course, they arguably both began and ended the Sixties, so that's appropriate.) One thing which really struck me, which AD doesn't mention, is just how casually sophisticated their lunacy and mockery could really get, particularly when they weren't thinking about a major release, but instead just knocking something low-key out for the fans. George Harrison once told his friend Eric Idle that Monty Python, with their Flying Circus, had absorbed or inherited the mantle of thoughtful weirdness that he felt the Beatles had carried throughout their existence; these nutty little exercises in holiday cheer prove that in spades. Click on the dates to listen.
From December 6, 1963, Christmas greetings from all, a rendition of “Good King Wenceslas,” and the chorus from “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
From December 18, 1964, a rendition of “Jingle Bells,” individual greetings from the band, and an ending jingle “Can You Wash Your Father’s Shirts?”
From December 17, 1965, renditions of “Yesterday,” “Happy Christmas to Ya List’nas,” “Auld Land Syne,” the Four Top’s “It’s the Same Old Song” and “Christmas Comes But Once a Year.”
From December 16, 1966, a fictional Christmas pantomime, with “Everywhere It’s Christmas,” “Orowanya,” “Please Don’t Bring Your Banjo Back” and “Podgy the Bear and Jasper Visit Felpin Mansions.”
From December 15, 1967, a mock show, including “Christmas Time is Here Again,” “Plenty of Jam Jars” (performed by the fictional band "The Revellers”), and John’s poem “When Christmas Time is Over.”
From December 20, 1968, renditions of “Happy Christmas, Happy New Year” and "Once Upon a Pool Table," with John’s poem “Jock & Yono.” Tiny Tim appears on “Nowhere Man.”
Finally, from December 19, 1969, John and Yoko in their home, Ringo plugs his movie “The Magic Christian,” and Paul sings “This is to Wish You a Merry, Merry Christmas.”