Christmas Alphabet : H for Emmylou Harris & Francoise Hardy

Christmas is a time when memories cascade – especially for those of us steeped in age.

Christmas, if we surrender to its spell, opens the door for the Child within to breathe again.

Music, in the form of songs we learned in our youth, when we had no sense we were learning them, invites us to be once more, once more, the wide eyed Child of days long past as counted by the turning of the Calendar’s pages.

So, let’s call upon a Jukebox favourite, Emmylou Harris, to stir that Sense of Wonder once again.

Come they told me
Pa rum pum pum pum

Our finest gifts we bring
Pa rum pum pum pum

Shall I play for you
Pa rum pum pum pum
On my drum

Oh, play it please.

Play it please, Emmylou.


Now, when I was a teenager, I became, in the way that a certain sort of teenager does, a deep dyed Francophile.

If you had asked me why I would have said, with proper teenage pomposity, it was naturellement, because of the visionary poetry of Rimbaud, the kaleidoscopic brilliance of the mind of Blaise Pascal and the mystical beauty of the films of Robert Bresson.

I would have said less about the allure of the Disque Bleu Cigarette Packet and the taste of Pastis 51.

But to tell the truth, the heart of my devotion to French Culture was to be found in my prized collection of records by the Yé-yé girls of the 1960s – France Gall, Sylvie Vartan and above all, far above all, the divine Francoise Hardy!

I could definitely hear her calling me across La Manche.

And, when she sang, in her uniquely seductive plangent tones, about the falling snow and the north wind blowing, the cool of the evening sky and the falling star, I had my own Christmas Anthem, whether anyone else recognised it as a Christmas Song or not!

It may be, after the two selections above, that some Jukebox Readers, will think the criteria for an appearance on The Alphabet Series is having a melancholy voice combined with being extremely photogenic.

Long time Readers will know that my taste is somewhat broader than that!

And, to prove it, here’s the wonderful Stanley Holloway, with one of his inimitably great recitations – masterpieces of comic character and timing.

Embed from Getty Images

At the same time as I was assiduously practicing the Yé-Yé Twist I was learning by heart party pieces like, ‘The Lion and Albert’, ‘Sam, Sam, Pick oop thy Musket’, ‘One Each Apiece All Round’ and ‘It’ll All be the Same (A Hundred Years from Now).

Of course, when Christmas rolled around, with a hat cocked on the side of my head and fortified by some fine fortified wine, I would launch, unstoppably into, ‘Sam’s Christmas Pudding’ in homage to the great Stanley.

I might well do it again this year!

Come on! Join In!

It was Christmas Day in the trenches
In Spain in Penninsular War,
And Sam Small were cleaning his musket
A thing as he’d ne’re done before …


Now, weren’t that reet grand, Reet Grand.

The Alphabet Series will continue on 9/11/13/15/17/19 and 21 December.

Underline those dates in your Calendars!


26 thoughts on “Christmas Alphabet : H for Emmylou Harris & Francoise Hardy

  1. Loved this post and meant to reply to it immediately but events intervened as they do…
    Firstly, Françoise Hardy – I too loved her singing and knew all her songs, and then to my immense delight I got to meet her. Years ago, when I was in my teens in Cape Town (South Africa) she came out there – not sure why. Anyway, she had her portrait painted by Tretchikoff, (he of the blue and green oriental women). His wife was a friend of my friend’s mom, and we were invited round to meet her. I was so awed I couldn’t think of anything to say! The portrait (which I’m sure you’d find if you googled it) showed her behind a window with rain running down it.

    The second part of the post that really hit me was about the Stanley Holloway monologues to which I was introduced by my grandmother. I used to know several of them by heart, and my favourite was the one about Anne Boleyn:

    In the Tower of London large as life,
    The Ghost of Anne Boleyn walks they declare.
    For Anne Boleyn was once King Henry’s wife,
    Until he made the headsman bob her hair!
    Ah, yes, he did her wrong, long years ago
    And, she comes up at night to tell him soooo!

    With her head tucked underneath her arm
    She walks the Bloody Tower
    With her head tucked underneath her arm
    At the midnight hour.

    She comes to haunt King Henry,
    She means to give him ‘what for’,
    Gadzook! She’s going to tell him off
    For having split her gore,
    And, just in case the headsman
    Wants to give her an encore,
    She has her head tucked underneath her arm.

    It goes on for several more verses!

    Thanks for the memories! Hope you had a very Happy Christmas, and may 2019 bring health, wealth and happiness to you and yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think Francoise Hardy was calling out to me in this song! Another great example of the alchemy of song and voice. Always good to hear any Emmylou but rarely have I encountered her juxtaposed with Stanley Holloway 🙂 Maybe this song was the inspiration for Sharpe ?!

    Liked by 1 person

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