Months of the Year in Song: December Departed

Yet again I’m up against a deadline, sneaking the latest edition of this series into the tail end of the month, and what a month it’s been. I had fully expected this edition to be a really festive one, full of jollity and Christmas songs, but for me, December 2022 has been memorable for the sheer number of deaths there have been both in the world of celebrity and closer to home.

The latest tally ‘closer to home’ is now seven deaths since the start of the month. None of them family or really close friends, but people I knew through their offspring, through work, or from my neighbourhood. Out there in the wider world the obituaries just keep on coming. Last night we heard of the death of Vivienne Westwood (would punk have happened in quite the same way without her?), and yesterday we also lost Pele, whose playing style probably gave football the moniker, ‘the beautiful game’. On Christmas Eve we lost Maxi Jazz, lead vocalist of British electronic band Faithless. To be honest, until reading a comment about him on another blog just before his death, I wouldn’t have known his name, but there can’t be many of us who weren’t aware of him. Such a striking man whose struggle with Insomnia gave us the dance track that even those of us who missed the Ibiza boat knew well. I’ve already written tributes for Christine McVie and Terry Hall this month, but we’ve also lost Jet Black of the Stranglers, and many others from the world of music and entertainment.

In clockwise direction: Vivienne Westwood and pals, Christine McVie, Terry Hall, Maxi Jazz, Jet Black

Insomnia by Faithless:


But this is supposed to be a post full of December songs and appropriately I’m going to kick things off with George Michael, who himself died on Christmas Day, 2016. That year had been incredibly cruel for losses but his death was the one that hit me hardest as his music had accompanied me throughout my entire adult life up until that point. I’ve shared his December Song (I Dreamed of Christmas) around here before, but no reason not to share it again.

December Song (I Dreamed of Christmas) by George Michael:


It always seems a bit odd listening to Christmas songs after the 25th so apologies for the timing of this post. Hope everyone who visits this place had a good time over the peak festive period, but I am also aware it can be a tough time for many. For the second year in a row we went out for Christmas lunch as it seemed high time that DD and the new fiancé gave it a bash. I can report back that everything went really well and I think she got a lot less stressed than I usually do when juggling so many dishes at the same time. When we got back home in the evening though it was just the two of us, so very different from the years when we had our own parents, Mr WIAA’s siblings and DD to entertain. Just the place we’ve reached on the conveyor belt of life I suppose.

DD’s Christmas table complete with fancy napkins!

Before I get on with the song suggestions, here is the bit of trivia I found really interesting back in September, but now find a bit boring and repetitive. Yes, yet again the month of December is named after a Latin number, this time ten, or decem, all because the Roman calendar used to have 10 months with a gap for an ‘unorganised winter’. Phew, think we’re done with all that now, so it should get a bit more interesting once we head into a new calendar year.

The first suggestion last time came in from Rick who thought the line, ‘I wanted to assassinate Christmas’, in the Teenage Fanclub song, December, was a really good one. First time this Scottish band has put in an appearance around here, so thanks Rick, and yes, a sentiment many of us probably agree with.


Our next pick came from Ernie Goggins who suggested Merle Haggard’s song, If We Make It Through December. Listening to the lyrics I can’t help thinking there must be many, many families out there thinking exactly the same thing this year. Sadly, the way things are going, I don’t think there will be much respite in January, or February, and the current incumbent at No. 10 is not going to offer up any easy fixes. But thanks Ernie, a new song for me, and I do like Merle’s voice despite the sad lyrics.

Got laid off down at the factory
And their timing’s not the greatest in the world
Heaven knows I been workin’ hard
Wanted Christmas to be right for daddy’s girl

I don’t mean to hate December
It’s meant to be the happy time of year
And my little girl don’t understand
Why daddy can’t afford no Christmas here


Next up we have a suggestion from Khayem who for the second time in this series came up with something from the band The The (I think he must be a big fan). Here are his own words:

‘Unsurprisingly, lots and lots of December songs out there, so I’m just going to stick with one, although it’s been re-recorded and covered several times over. It’s DecemberSunlight (no spacing) by The The. The original version appeared on the 2000 album NakedSelf.’

Thanks Khayem, and anyone who wants to investigate some of the many covers can find them in last month’s comments boxes (link here).


Rol promised to be kind this time, with fewer suggestions to drown me with. As it turns out, a couple of the songs he mentioned, I would have included myself anyway. First of all, I can’t write a December themed post without including this song from the Four Seasons. I always used to think it was simply called, Oh What a Night, but the official title is December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night). This time the lead vocals came from drummer Gerry Polci, with Frankie Valli just singing the bridge sections and backing vocals. Whenever I hear this song I am transported back to 1975 when our newly minted community centre was the focal point for teenage social life (no iPhones in those days). Most of our year at school headed along every Saturday night for the ‘disco’, where the decks were manned by some of our enterprising classmates. Fun times played out to songs like this one, and as I’ve said around here before, I think the Four Seasons provided the backdrop to my first kiss!

December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night) by the Four Seasons:


Another of Rol’s suggestions was this one, December, by Count Basie & the Mills Brothers. The Mills Brothers, originally known as the Four Kings of Harmony, were an American jazz and traditional pop vocal quartet who made more than 2,000 recordings that sold more than 50 million copies. They were active from 1928 to 1980 and were the first African-American artists to have their own show on national network radio in the US.

December by The Mills Brothers:


I am reminded of a Christmas several years ago when our blogging buddy Jez used to ask for suggestions for his very entertaining feature, The Chain. I’m not sure how it came about but I remember offering up this Mills Brothers song back then as I had it in my library, and no suggestions were ever rejected. As it turns out Jez isn’t very well at the moment, so if he reads this, we’re all wishing you well and hope you can get back to the important business of blogging soon. No pressure though, health comes first an’ all that.

A suggestion now from C of Sun Dried Sparrows fame. Here are her own words:

‘The first song that springs to mind for me is My<Dsmbr by Linkin’ Park featuring Kelli Ali – I know, you’d have thought they could have spelt it correctly, will it be disqualified on the grounds of having no vowels? I’m no Linkin’ Park fan usually, but I like Kelli Ali for her time with Sneaker Pimps and creator of some great solo material and there’s just something about this song that seems to fit the mood of the month.’

No, won’t be disqualified C, so lets give it a listen. Yes, I do hear what you say about it fitting the mood of the month. Thanks for this one.


This next song was alluded to by Rol, but it was left to Rigid Digit to come out and suggest it properly. December Will Be Magic Again, by Kate Bush from 1980. Kate, who now lives quietly in an English village, became the artist de jour this last summer after her 1985 song Running Up That Hill was used for an important scene in the hit television drama Stranger Things. After 37 years it finally made it to the top spot on the UK Singles Chart, Kate’s first No. 1 since Wuthering Heights in 1978. For some reason her Christmas song is not one of the staples you hear on the radio much nowadays, which is a great shame, as classic Kate Bush.


The final song for this post comes from our blogging pal The Swede, who has been conspicuous by his absence this festive period. I suspect he might be too jiggered for blogging after long shifts keeping the nation fed, but hopefully all is well with him. Here are his own words:

‘My suggestion for the next instalment in this series is Fred Neil’s cover of December’s Dream, a song that unfathomably remained unreleased in his lifetime. Fred’s voice can reduce me to a blubbering wreck at the best of times, but here he just about finishes me off. The original version of the song by John Braheny is also excellent.’

Crikey TS, I see what you mean about that song, it’s got me reduced to a blubbering wreck too. A new artist and song for me, but what a beautiful and pure voice he has. Thank you for that suggestion.


Right, that’s definitely your lot for this month, and for the 2022 segment of this series. The next edition will come out before the end of January so yet again I would be most grateful for any of your song suggestions for that month (but please be sparing as these posts take a lot out of a person – I was warned!).

It’s going to be a quiet Hogmanay for us this year as there has been a radical change in our neighbourhood over the last few years meaning that the people we used to party with have either moved away, suffered illness or sadly passed away. On a positive note, I went to visit my mum in her care home earlier today and despite many of them having come down with flu, she was in good spirits and sporting a hat made out of balloons in the shape of a reindeer. (They’d had a magician in to entertain.) The mum I used to know would never have contemplated wearing a balloon hat, but the mum I now have is much more fun-loving and up for anything, so a bit of a blessing really.

Whatever you do for Hogmanay, whether it be watching a firework display, heading off to a party, or cosying up in front of the telly, I hope you have a good one.

Until next time…

December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night) Lyrics
(Song by Bob Gaudio/Judy Parker)

Oh, what a night
Late December, back in ’63
What a very special time for me
As I remember, what a night

Oh, what a night
You know, I didn’t even know her name
But I was never gonna be the same
What a lady, what a night

Oh, I, I got a funny feeling
When she walked in the room
And my, as I recall
It ended much too soon

(Oh, what a night)
Hypnotizing, mesmerisin’ me
She was everything I dreamed she’d be
Sweet surrender, what a night

And I felt a rush
Like a rolling bolt of thunder
Spinning my head around
And takin’ my body under
(Oh, what a night)

Oh, I got a funny feeling
When she walked in the room
And my, as I recall
It ended much too soon

(Oh, what a night)
Why’d it take so long to see the light?
Seemed so wrong, but now it seems so right
What a lady, what a night

Oh, I felt a rush
Like a rolling bolt of thunder
Spinning my head around
And takin’ my body under

(Oh, what a night)
Do do do, do do, do do do do
(Oh, what a night)
Do do do, do do, do do do do
(Oh, what a night)
Do do do, do do, do do do do
(Oh, what a night)
Do do do, do do, do do do do.
..

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

14 thoughts on “Months of the Year in Song: December Departed”

    1. Hi Neil and Happy New Year to you too for when it comes. Around four hours time where we are!

      Yes, the Counting Crows song was mentioned as a suggestion but I had to limit it this time as so many. For future months there will be fewer choices I think.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Love your Mum’s hat – are they commercially available?

    Fine selection of December songs, thanks. Don’t have much to offer for January. There’s the obvious one by Pilot and maybe “January Song” by Lindisfarne but nothing much else springs to mind.

    Happy New Year and all that

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, my mum’s hat – I should probably take that picture down in a few days but she is just so happy with herself nowadays and was delighted with the balloon hat. No worries about cost-of-living crises and the like when you are at that stage in life.

      You are right, not much for January but that’s ok, will make the post easier to write. Wasn’t aware of the Lindisfarne song so thanks for that.

      Happy New Year for when it comes.

      Like

  2. So sorry to hear of more losses in your wider circle and hope all those you know who are left behind – including you, of course – are doing ok. Here’s hoping that’s it for a good while now. As Ernie says, a fine selection of December songs; December definitely has a tuneful ring to it. I have a slight case (is that the right word?!) of synaesthesia, and see the months (along with days of the week and letters of the alphabet) as colours. January is a colour that I can’t even describe, kind of grey but also purple. I feel it deserves a song or two but nothing is coming to mind!
    Lovely pic of your mum and a blessing that she is enjoying life the way it is for her now. I’m seeing shades of Vivienne Westwood in her fashion sense there!
    Happy New Year to you and yours, Alyson. Here’s to good things in 2023!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They just keep on coming but no-one really close to us, fortunately, but the elderly parents of friends and people from our wider acquaintance circle – Never known of so many at the same time though even during the worst of covid. In the public eye we have also lost so many this month – still reeling from the death of Terry Hall.

      I like that word and I think I learnt a similar one when on my course. I had no idea that some people can’t see pictures in their heads at all as I see moving pictures in sharp bright colours. Seems you attach colours to specific words and I get that too but maybe not as vividly as you seem to. Makes sense because of your profession. January definitely a grey/purple month.

      Shouldn’t probably have shared that picture of my mum but she really is the life and soul of the party at her place and is always up for joining in whether it be singing, dancing or being the magician’s assistant! It’s good to see as back in the day she definitely wouldn’t have been so keen. Funny how the personality can change – she obviously always had it in her to wear a balloon hat. Definitely a touch of Vivienne Westwood!

      Happy New Year to you and Mr SDS too.

      Like

  3. Happy New Year to you and your family Alyson.
    I seem to have overlooked the December post in this series.
    I’ll go for the obvious one this month. January by Scottish band Pilot

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Happy New Year to you and Mrs CC too.

      That song by Pilot always becomes an earworm for me the minute we hit the new year. Not going to be as many songs to include this time which will make it a short and snappier post!

      Like

  4. Happy New Year to you and your family, Alyson! Sad to read of so many losses, both in the public eye and closer to home but offset by the lovely account of Christmas lunch and the photo and comments about your mum. I hope you also had an enjoyable NYE and can look forward to a bright 2023 (well, once we get grey January out of the way – nicely put, C!)

    Yes, I am a huge fan of The The but no, Matt Johnson couldn’t deliver the goods for this month as far as I know. However, I have a few others that have stepped up to the mark, oddly enough all called January Man.

    First up is Dave Goulder from 1970 https://youtu.be/s4UbWhtVCBE
    …covered by the likes of Bert Jansch, Christy Moore and Martin Carthy. I’ve just got one, a rather fine version by Rachel Unthank & The Winterset https://youtu.be/KxYt32HgOkA

    Not to be outdone, Roy Harper wrote his own January Man 40-odd years later https://youtu.be/i719uDUOcsY

    Nick Heyward eschewed folk for frenetic acoustic pop with his same-name-song in 1993 https://youtu.be/oxyC0XxUpAM

    And whilst there’s no singing involved, here’s a clip from 1989 action comedy (or is it comedy action) film The January Man starring Kevin Kline, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and the much missed Alan Rickman https://youtu.be/ojXdszILU18

    I inadvertently used another song called January by Momus in one of Highlights of 2022 selections so I’ll spare you that one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy New Year to you too Khayem & family. A very quiet one for us last night but maybe we’ve just got to that stage in life – no wild parties for us any more! Hope you enjoyed whatever you did.

      You might have noticed your comment didn’t come up immediately as it had more than one link included, so I had to approve it – just to explain that. But, thanks for all these January Man suggestions. I won’t embed them in the comments boxes this time but will save them for the next post in the series – looking forward to sharing that Nick Heyward one, as I was quite the fan back in the day. And, that film rings a bell but can’t remember if I’ve watched it before – the Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves team (well two of them anyway). Will have to seek it out.

      Thanks for the suggestions.

      Like

  5. Very late to this, so I’ll keep it brief. I had a few suggestions, but I’ve narrowed it down to just one…

    The Decemberists – January Song

    Happy New Year, Alyson. Better than last year, anyway!

    Like

  6. Thanks for this additional suggestion – kind of glad the January post will be shorter and will be interesting to find out the background to how the month got its name.

    Yes, Happy New Year to you too. As for it being better, we’ve all wished for that since I started blogging in 2016 and it’s got steadily worse. Brace yourself for that meteor!

    Like

  7. Working my way back through your recent posts, I hope I’m not too late to offer a January song suggestion. Khayem beat me to it with my first thought of ‘January Man’, so I’ll head off in a 1960s psych/prog direction with ‘The Doorway to January’, an instrumental piece by Mandrake Paddle Steamer, a band formed in my home town of Walthamstow in 1967.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No not too late although I’m running out of days left to write the January post – will have to get my skates on (literally as very icy around here). Thanks for the suggestion as a lot fewer for this month as expected.

      Like

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