Monday, December 22, 2008

All I Want For Christmas is a Beatle — Dora Bryan (1963)

The seeds for U.S. Beatlemania were days away from being sown on this date, 45 years ago. After turning up its nose at early singles such as Please Please Me and Love Me Do, EMI's American affiliate Capitol Records finally decided four Liverpool moptops might have a modicum of commercial potential and, on Dec. 26, 1963, the label released its first Beatles record, I Want To Hold Your Hand b/w I Saw Her Standing There. It hit No. 1 on the North American singles charts five weeks later and the rest is over-documented history. Of course, The Beatles were already a phenomenon in their home country, so much so they inspired this novelty Christmas single sung by British stage actress Dora Bryan. It hit the UK top-20 in the waning days of 1963.

It's naff and blandly orchestrated, topped with a thickly accented vocal that some would diplomatically call an acquired taste. If the singer sounds more like a brassy broad than a lovestruck teenager in the first flush of Beatlemania, that's surely because Bryan was 39 at the time — perhaps too adult to spot the glaring errors in the source material. "I don't care whichever one (mum) gets me/ Ringo, Paul, John, George/ They're all the same," she sings, oblivious to the fact her target audience would consider this statement heresy. (I love hearing Bryan, at the one-minute mark, attempt to cram that particular lyric into too few bars of music. She almost gets panicky at the end.)

That said, All I Want For Christmas is a Beatle has both hapless charm and historical significance, as this is widely considered the first of countless Fab Four novelty records to come.

As for Bryan, memory loss forced her to abandon her acting career in 2006; she is now wheelchair-bound and residing in a nursing home in Hove. Wouldn't it be nice if Paul or Ringo dropped by for a visit this Christmas?

All I Want For Christmas is a Beatle (link expired)

Beatles' 1963 Christmas message for fan club members (link expired)

And, finally, what better way to get into the Christmas spirit than with the newly divorced Sonny and Cher harmonizing with daughter Chastity, actress Bernadette Peters and, um, Captain Kangaroo? Only in the 1970s...

Buy Dora Bryan music here

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