The Beatles Put Out Christmas Records Every Year. Listen to the First One, 50 Years Later.

Slate's Culture Blog
Dec. 23 2013 11:24 AM

Merry Christmas From the Beatles

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Brow Beat is following the Beatles in “real time,” 50 years later, from their first chart-topper to their final rooftop concert. 50 years ago this month, the Beatles released their first annual Christmas record.

While the recordings are a relatively little-known part of the group’s discography, the Beatles marked the holidays every year by mailing short Christmas records to members of their fan club. 50 years ago this December, at the dawn of Beatlemania in the U.K., the band released the first such collection, simply titled The Beatles’ Christmas Record.

The first installment is representative of the series in its early years: One by one, the Beatles introduce themselves, thank the “Beatle people” for their support (the series was conceived in part due to the difficulty of keeping up with fan letters), and sing a song. (In later years, as they drifted apart, the four recorded their parts separately.) There’s also lots of general merriment and impromptu goofiness: The band had a taste for nonsense lyrics long before they started dropping acid. (They also demonstrate the German-language skills they picked up during their time in Hamburg.)

The Beatles’ Christmas Record is not exactly a holiday classic, but that wasn’t really the point: The real appeal, for Beatle people then and today, is the feeling of having the band in your living room for your own holiday celebrations. As Paul puts it toward the end, using the group’s own nonsense language, “Happy Crimble, and a Merry New Year.”

Read more from Blogging the Beatles
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Before the British Invasion, a Beatle Comes to America
The Beatles Say Goodbye to the Cavern Club
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When John Lennon Was Simon Cowell
The Beatles Overtake Their Idols
The Beatles Get Their Own Show
Did John Lennon Have a Secret Affair With Brian Epstein

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer.