The studio guitarist’s guide to happiness and personal fulfilment, as regaled to us by Mitch Dalton This month: Y is for Yule
By the time you read this the Season Of Goodwill will have come and gone. Christmas will be over, too. See? Who needs Michael McIntyre, Boxing Day CyberDeals or Tesco Value Crackers when you have this festive frolicsome feelgood column with which to fill your flippers?
The point is that I may write this with impunity. It’s 2017 and you have clearly survived December’s mince pie based bunfight. You may well be reading this within the cheery walls of your local branch of Relate. You might be contemplating the snowy landscape of your new year diary. You could be calculating the odds of your TV Licence, Car Insurance and Road Tax all falling due simultaneously in January. But you got through it. Somehow.
Let’s review the terrifying ordeals that you, a Seasoned Santa Shredder, have just withstood. I have rated each tender cut of this venison enriched Winter Work-aLand in a handy cut-out-and-keep Humiliation and Embarrassment Index. Or H/E for short! 1. Christmas Albums. These are traditionally recorded in July. Despite the incontrovertible wisdom of my father (“British weather consists of six months of Winter - and six months of bad weather”) it is part of planning regulations that they are recorded during the warmest three days of the year. Or Summer, as some folk allude to it. Often, the artist may insist that an effort is made to immerse proceedings in a jolly Xmas simulation, a kind of Artificial InSantanation, if you will. For a recent Kylie album we arrived in Chestnut Roasting Territory (or Angel Studios if you prefer) to be greeted with a fully-fledged Hollywood ’40s-style makeunder. Sleds, reindeer, life-size toy soldiers and lashings of pharmaceutically neutral white powder bedecked the environs. The lady seemed happy enough and smiled angelically throughout proceedings.
H/E Index - Low. 25-35%. 2. Christmas Commercials. This is the time of the year when those impecunious folk at your favourite multiple retail outlets discover that miracles really do happen. I refer to the annual discovery of £2-3 million down the back of the sofa in H.R. and the necessity to blow it all on a mega ad campaign before the accountants get wind of said budget balls-up. That is surely the only reasonable explanation for the sudden booking to accompany a posthumous Andy Williams in a digitally remastered reworking of The Christmas Song with full orchestra, singers and sleigh bells. At 8am. Now that’s a proper Black Friday. However, the decision is but a simple one. Just say yes, children. After all, the money’s the same, or better. John Lewis, M&S and Lidl. The Three Wise Men Of Marketing.
H/E Rating - 15% (because no one will ever know). 3. The Christmas Party. Music Production companies invite their writers to these alcoholically supercharged bashes. The twist is that you will be asked to play for the assembled throng. For nothing, of course, in gratitude for the privilege of splitting half your royalties with them. Embarrassment potential is limitless, from the moment a guitar is thrust into your paw and the invitation issued to “Come and sit in - how about Johnny B Goode? D flat’s a great key for my voice...”
H/E Rating - 100%. 4. Christmas TV Specials. Every Light Entertainment show mounts its own Xmas variation. It requires almost no creativity or extra expense. It’s sufficient to lob a few bits of tinsel, a rent-a-tree and a 5. Christmas Concerts. These may go under the aliases ‘Christmas Cracker’, ‘Christmas Carol Singalong’ and, since the time of their break-up, ‘The Abba Tribute Show!’ The good news is that you will be required to participate in but half the show. You will be afforded the luxury of listening to some seasonal melodies before unleashing your best Slade, George Michael and Boney M riffs upon a mercifully indulgent audience. But
you listen to some seasonal melodies beFore unleashing your best slade, george michael and boney m riFFs!
Santacentric presenter at the set, stand back and intone “...the last in the present series...from everyone here...see you in 2017...”. Cue the dry ice and roll the credits.
My favourite is The Songs Of Praise Christmas Special. We record this on the same day as The Big Sing. In September! It requires both a mid-afternoon set rebuild as we Deck The (Royal Albert) Hall; and clairvoyance on the part of the guests, as the presenter enquires how they spent Christmas this year.
H/E Rating - 0-100% (the 100% should you be captured in vision). they knew what they were getting.
When you return to your place you will discover a Santa hat placed upon your seat. You swallow your pride, don it in a display of goodwill and espouse the thought that you Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day. As well you might when you subsequently receive The Abba Outfit they’ve asked you to wear later in the month. H/E Rating - 565%. Joy To The World!
Mitch Dalton: Our hero is full of Christmas cheer!