Bells, basically

The first real Christmas song to peak the UK charts did just that and was nicely settled there in this week of 1955, not budging until the New Year, thereby making it the very first of many prestigious Christmas Number Ones: Dickie Valentine and ‘Christmas Alphabet’, which had been a minor hit in the US for The McGuire Sisters the previous year. Who did it knock off the top spot?, I hear you cry. Why, none other than Bill Haley and His Comets, whose ‘Rock Around the Clock’ had occupied the position for three weeks and, after allowing Dickie an equal amount of time at the top of the not entirely festive heap, returned there for another fortnight just to show him who was kiss-curled boss. In all, ‘Rock Around the Clock’ spent 36 weeks in the UK singles chart; Dickie, a still respectable seven.

Fancying another crack at what has since become a prized placing for all artists (somewhat surprisingly achieved by Pink Floyd, of course, in 1979 with ‘Another Brick in the Wall (Part Two)’; for some, a disappointment for the time of year due to its inexcusable lack of bells, although there wasn’t much in the way of typical festive ditties other than Paul McCartney’s ‘Wonderful Christmas Time’ that year and they did keep Abba off the top spot, at least, so all’s forgiven. Anyway, back to Dickie Valentine…), his ‘Christmas Island’ from 1956 made the UK Top Ten, faring better than the following year’s ‘Snowbound for Christmas’, which peaked at a disappointing #28 and spent only a solitary week in the charts.

How many of the UK Top Ten singles from this week in 1955 do you know of, associate with happy memories, or care to search for on YouTube? And aren’t you glad that we no longer live in a time where band names are prefaced not with an often needless yet also somewhat obliging The, but a thoroughly condescending His? (His Comets? Talk about being owned.)

01. Dickie Valentine, ‘Christmas Alphabet’
02. Bill Haley and His Comets, ‘Rock Around the Clock’
03. Four Aces, ‘Love Is a Many Splendored Thing’
04. Winifred Atwell, ‘Let’s Have a Ding Dong’
05. Stargazers, ‘Twenty Tiny Fingers’
06. Max Bygraves, ‘Meet Me on the Corner’
07. David Whitfield with Mantovani and His Orchestra, ‘When You Lose the One You Love’
08. Johnston Brothers, ‘Hernando’s Hideaway’
09. Mitch Miller, ‘The Yellow Rose of Texas’
10. Pat Boone, ‘Ain’t That a Shame’

Anyway, as this is the last post of 2010, and as this is the fifth time I’ve had to wrap it up for Christmas with something suitably cheery, and as I’m now destined to be preoccupied for the rest of the day – at least – with thoughts of songs from the Christmas period which are severely lacking in the Bells Department, how about you join me in honouring the most exquisite use of the bell in music? Just like ‘Another Brick…’, the song can have naff all to do with Christmas, yet some festive tunes featuring bells of any type (shape, size, pitch) would be a welcome addition to any list. And the bells don’t have to be ‘exquisite’, either; they can be irritating, patronising, repetitive, desperate, unashamedly opportunistic or any other adjective you care to level at the song and performer should its bells matter enough to warrant your thought at this precise moment in time. Heck, the song could even be about a bell. It could even be a whole album.

Listen to this, it’ll help.

With reference to Christmas:

– Band Aid, ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’
– The Eagles (or Bon Jovi, if you prefer), ‘Please Come Home for Christmas’
– Cliff Richard, ‘Mistletoe and Wine’

Without reference to Christmas:

– Ben E. King, ‘Stand by Me’
– The Love Affair, ‘Everlasting Love’
– Metallica, ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’

The chatroom is open and will be until 5pm (UK), if you want to listen to Cliff Richard’s finest with me whilst mulling over tracks where a bell is distinctly lacking, or, in some cases, perhaps even to the song’s detriment. If not, see you in 2011.

Merry Christmas, everyone. Thank you for your contributions throughout the year.

85 comments

  1. Davie110

    Christmas Bells, eh?!

    You can’t beat… Darlene Love – Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)

    😀

    Merry Christmas to you too, FEd. Can’t believe this year is almost at an end already… It can’t really be this close to 2011, can it?! Shocking!

    Anyway, hope you and your friends and relatives have happy holidays… and hope Santa is good to you!

    Thanks for still bloggin’ too after all this time (what is it, 5 years now?!), I can always be guaranteed a good thought-provoking read here! 😀

  2. Ullie

    What nice songs you posted, sadly I cannot see all YouTubes here in Germany, what sucks big time, I feel discriminated against, that is not fair!

    My fave Christmas song ever is from Wham, Last Christmas.

    Of course Billy Idol has a bunch of Christmas songs, as he published a complete Christmas album a few years ago.

    Merry Christmas to you all!

  3. Amedeo

    These songs are not very festive, but I felt they could use a mention since they have good use of a bell.

    Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
    Ozzy Osbourne – Centre of Eternity
    Pink Floyd – High Hopes (I know, this one goes without saying)

    FEd, I hope you have a great holiday season and happy new year, the same for David and family.

  4. Taki

    Have some great hollidays, dear FEd and fellow bloggers.

    Best regards,

    Taki

    My songs:

    Hell’s Bells 😉
    High Hopes

  5. NewYorkDan

    Permit me to name the most obvious bells of all, on the Blog: The Division Bell. How many angels have earned their wings as Floyd fans play this album over and over?

    • ash

      “Far away across the field, tolling of the iron bell, calls the faithful to their knees to hear the softly spoken magic spell”

      We can’t forget “Time” as well. Those bells at the start are startling, that’s the best descriptive word I can come up with. They wake you even though you are awake. Absolute genius.

      I just discovered there is a cowbell on “Pigs (Three Different Ones)”. Not sure I did the right thing playing it to check because once you know it’s there, it dominates.

      Probably the cowbell we all recognise instantly is the one on that Rolling Stones song… you know the one… tip of your tongue… what’s it called?

      ash

    • FEd

      Probably the cowbell we all recognise instantly is the one on that Rolling Stones song… you know the one… tip of your tongue… what’s it called?

      It’s got to be… ‘Brown Sugar’?

    • NewYorkDan

      The Stones’ Honky Tonk Woman starts with a cowbell. And yes, the cowbell in Pigs (3 Different Ones) is the dominant rhythm there.

    • ash

      Thank you Dan, I thought I was the only Stones fan here for a moment.

      I knew you were trying to wind me up Fed, well, I’m not going to take the bait!

      ash :))

  6. graham knight

    I’m just thinking about Motorhead doing a Christmas single, a sort of Ace of Spades with bells on!

    • FEd

      I do like the acoustic version used in an advert for Belgian lager. A Belgian lager, incidentally, which has a funny ‘musical production on ice’ that you can personalise. Have a look, if you’re feeling silly.

      Makes me want to watch Shooting Stars

    • Michèle

      Don’t want to contradict you, but, advert for Belgian lager ‘Stella Artois’? Sure of that? Wasn’t this acoustic version used in an advert for ‘Kronenbourg 1664’?

      FRENCH lager!!! 😉

    • FEd

      :)) Thank you, Michèle. I realised my mistake the other day and didn’t want to forget it. You’re quite right: it’s French Kronenbourg 1664 and not Belgian Stella Artois.

      Neither go down quite as well as Danish Carlsberg, though… 😉

  7. Ian Pearson

    Wow, when I saw the word “bells” I thought whisky of course! Living next door to a church, bells mean two things, why so loud? and why on a Sunday?

    Happy New Year and Merry Christmas and all that FEd and everyone here. Yep, 5 years at least, can’t believe how this site has kept me alive. Congrats to all concerned for taking part. Just wish we could all meet up more. I have fond memories of Leicester Square Odeon. Ahhh, bliss.

    Ian

    • ash

      Ian said

      why so loud? and why on a Sunday?

      :)) You must have done something very bad in a previous life Ian, or God knew you were gonna say that and got the punishment in first!

      ash

  8. Heather

    Hi Fed

    Just to wish you, David and Family and all bloggers a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year… travel safely and enjoy yourselves.

    Best wishes
    from Heather

    • FEd

      Excellent. And Paul McCartney’s ‘Wonderful Christmastime’ wasn’t just worthy of mention up top, yet also deserves to be listened to by everyone with an appreciation of bells, I feel. Here’s the video. Note the choir of children singing their song at the one-minute mark.

      Best use of adults-pretending-to-be-children-pretending-to-be-bells in a song, you think?

  9. frank par

    Can’t forget Time, with all those bells ringing. Classic.

    Merry Xmas and Happy New Year fellow bloggers and Fed!

  10. ash

    I’d like to wish David and Polly and Family a lovely Christmas. 😀

    Fed, can’t believe it’s been five years and still a smashing place, this blog. Merry Christmas to you and yours. 😀

    Fellow Bloggers, I love reading everything you say. Merry Christmas all. 😀

    Hopefully Fed is still publishing, never can be sure of the post though with all this snow… back to thinking about bells now to maybe catch the next post…

    ash

  11. Michèle

    Not very fond of Christmas songs, so I’ll limit myself to songs without reference to Christmas.

    – Pink Floyd, ‘High Hopes’, ‘Fat Old Sun’
    – AC/DC, ‘Hell’s Bells’
    – Mike Oldfield, ‘Tubular Bells’
    – The most beautiful bells, those of freedom: Bon Jovi, ‘Bells Of Freedom’

    I have a song even older than yours (those from 1955), I think it was recorded in 1946. 😐 :

    Edith Piaf et Les Compagnons de la Chanson, ‘Les Trois Cloches’

    The song has been covered as ‘The Three Bells’ by Ray Charles, Roy Orbison and more recently by Alison Krauss, I think.

    A Christmas song where bells are lacking? By Pink Floyd? (Well, vocals by Nick Mason) – This one. They seem to be enjoying themselves. :)) – Love it.

    Joyeux Noël, FEd! Merci pour tout. 🙂

  12. ash

    From last year’s crackers… imagine I’m telling you these wearing a Christmas hat with a bell on… so as it’s on topic…

    What lies on its back one hundred feet in the air?
    A dead centipede.

    What’s the best thing to do if you find a gorilla in your bed?
    Sleep somewhere else.

    What do you get if you cross an elephant with a kangaroo?
    Big holes all over Australia.

    ash :))

  13. Sharon Woods

    NYDan, I was looking for a nice nostalgic Christmas piece, because you took the one song I intended to post (sir, I accuse you of brainwave hacking!!!). :))

    As my thought was stolen I was feeling pretty grinchy. Unfortunately, THIS came up through the dregs of memory…I’m most sorry to inflict this on the funny bone, but I think we all need a laugh, don’t you?

    From the Dr. Demento Show Days, Chuck Berry singing “My Ding-a-Ling” – here.

    Please… tell me it’s not a cat?!! 8|

    • FEd

      :)) Love that. Somebody sign up Connor the Golden Retriever before Simon Cowell does.

      Thanks for the laugh.

  14. KenF

    On the subject of Bells, I was very recently, fortunate enough to take a tour of Big Ben (which has to be the most iconic of bells) and having climbed the 334 steps to the belfry, I then witnessed it strike 3PM. It was a unique experience.

    Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to FEd, David and family, Irregulars one and all.

    We’ll all be welcoming this sound very soon.

  15. Liz

    Bells? High Hopes!

    FEd, I would like to wish you, David and family a very merry Christmas and a wonderful new year. (I love the snowflakes going through the screen by the way.)

  16. Damian Cunningham

    How weird. I just logged onto to the blog whilst at the same time listening to the Division Bell on my Zen, and here we are talking about bells.

    I always hear bells, as I have really bad tinitus.

    Anyways, hope you have a really good Chrimbo and get to your destinations safely.

    Thought my eyes were playing up, or my PC: I kept seeing snow dropping down my screen.

    Kindest regards
    Damian.

  17. Michèle

    Big Ben.

    I think, at the beginning and at the end of ‘Miss Maggie’ by Renaud.

    He recorded an English version of the song, which is not a direct translation, since there’s a lot of French slang in the original.

    Terrible accent, I know…

    Merry Christmas, Madame Thatcher! (Hope you’re not reading the blog, though. :)) )

  18. Alessandra

    My songs.

    Tori Amos – Bells For Her
    Jethro Tull – Ring Out, Solstice Bells

    Even if I’m probably late in writing this, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, FEd, to all bloggers and, of course, to David, Polly and their family. 🙂

  19. Damian Cunningham

    I had to do it, I knew what it was, and so I opened it: The Orb featuring our David. I have it on now before I go to work. Brilliant.

    Do you have the tour dates yet Fed? 😉 I know, don’t say it.

    Damian

  20. Julian, Langley

    Hi FED ‘n all.

    I can’t believe someone hasn’t already got this one down. Listed with no obvious link to Christmas but does have one or two bells. Very cheezy and tongue in cheek. 😛

    Tubular Bells – Mike Oldfield!!

    Have a good Christmas and Happy New Year.

    5 years, wow.

  21. anoska

    I think these holidays are very troublesome and tiring…

    Anyway… Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 🙂

  22. Michèle

    Can I raise my glass of Champagne in a toast to The Blog today?

    Happy Fifth Birthday, Blog! 🙂

    Such a wonderful place, here, FEd! Congratulations, many thanks and please, never abandon us!

  23. Hydrea

    From the bottom of my heart I wish to everyone a Happy Christmas and a Great 2011. 🙂

    Well, in particular my wishes are to my friend bloggers:

    Michèle (ma belle) Susan, New York Dan (Sultan Dan), Sando (The Brazilian Guy) Ash, Lene, and Lorraine.

    And now, I have a question: Do you believe in Santa? Because “Santa Claus is Coming”. :))

    Enjoy the video.

    PS: One day, I hope to meet all of you in London.

    Bye, Hydrea

  24. diana

    Merry Christmas FEd and mates,

    I hope health, love and peace for all of us.

    Thank you for thoughts, contributions and friendship. Thank you for this blog.

    Thank you David and everything still remains about Pink Floyd and the best music in the world.

    Thank you Syd and Rick.

    Happy 2011 new year!!!

    diana

  25. Bella

    Wonderful bell songs mentioned here by FEd and fellow bloggers. All time personal favourite, no surprise, as it has already garnered many mentions, High Hopes.

    This was a wonderful Floyd year, with the releases of Introduction to Syd Barrett, David’s transcendental participation in The Orb’s Metallic Spheres and – still pinching myself: seeing The Wall three times. I am counting my musical blessings. :v

    Wishing David Gilmour, FEd and all fellow bloggers a very Merry and Blessed Christmas, surrounded by joy and loved-ones.

    Bella xo

  26. Lene

    You want bells?

    You only have to listen to the beginning of this song for the bells…

    Thank YOU Fed, for keeping this place alive, engaging and affecting.

    A merry Christmas to you. :v

  27. jan

    To F’Ed and all:

    Just a short post to wish you all a wonderful holiday and a happy healthy new year.

    Jan

  28. Elisabetta Corsi-Italy N.E.

    Just rest up and have a Merry Christmas to Gilmour’s family, to you, dear Fed and your family, to every blogger and families, best wishes to you all.

    God Bless you and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2011.

    Love
    Elisabetta

  29. Alessandra

    More bells.

    The Beatles – When I’m Sixty-Four
    Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells
    The Rolling Stones – The Lantern
    Iron Maiden – Hallowed By Thy Name

    And what about the bells at the beginning/end of David’s “Fat Old Sun”? Do they count?

    Merry Christmas again. 🙂

  30. Rob_P_From_CT

    I love all the bells and most of the songs.

    Merry Christmas FEd and everyone else and a very Happy New Year too!!!

    …now for some egg nog… 8|

  31. Piero

    A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year David.

    FEd,

    I’ve been posting in this blog for four years and I love it. It’s a great place to share our thoughts, our emotions and our dreams. Thank you.

    Enjoy yourselves and drink responsibly. 😉

    With love,
    Piero

  32. NewYorkDan

    I wish everyone in this Blog a very happy New Year. This goes especially for David and Polly, should you happen to read this. My resolution: to continue being the hard-working, fun-loving person I’ve always been.

  33. MikeT

    ‘Lo All. Happy Birthday to all the Bloggers and the Man they Call The “FeD”. Some say he was once captured on film. Singing “Us and Them” to a honey bee. Some say he was once spotted throwing a flip flop at a cat that was curling one off by the lettuces. Some say… I could go on.

    It’s been a thoughtful, fun and entertaining five years for sure. Thanks to you all. I wish you all Good Luck and a safe 2011.

    Mike x

    PS Fed, is this Xmassy enough for your list thing? Wicked.

  34. Susan

    Happy Christmas and Happy New Year to all of my Dear Blogger Friends; Gilmourettes and Irregulars Alike.

    And of course, a Special Greeting to our most wonderful FEd and Mr. Gilmour and Family… And the many other web-site workers who must be there; lurking ‘behind the scenes’, making this all possible; while saying to FEd: “Glad we don’t have YOUR job today!”; when the endless posts of a PF reunion happening yet again begin rolling in. 8|

    I don’t know how you do it (sometimes), FEd~ and you are so articulate, and a world of musical knowledge. 🙂

    This blog is such a special place, and I feel honoured to be a part of it. Happy 5th Anniversary, FEd and all of the others who have made the wonderful DG Site and Blog possible, and chat, too!! I have true World-Wide Friends through this blog~ honestly.

    I wish each and every one of you a Healthy and Happy New Year.

    ~Susan xoxo

  35. Stephanie

    I know I´m too late now for Christmas wishes. Shame on me but I was very busy with renovation work and snow shovelling.

    I hope everybody had a wonderful Christmas time and now I wish you all the best for 2011 – let´s have another good year together.

    I like all the bell songs – here is one more.

  36. Whitewatersky

    Merry Christmas one ‘n’ all,

    just a quick note to say that this has been a very Gilmour Christmas.

    I have FINALLY woken up to myself (at a month shy of 40) and developed an appreciation of David Gilmour and certain Pink Floyd albums (Dark Side, Wish You Were Here – I’ll progress to the others eventually).

    I’ve had On an Island for a few years and have enjoyed playing it regularly but only over the past few weeks have I REALLY got it…

    Anyway, I’m also hoping someone can tell me whether ALL the loops are still in circulation on David’s site. I’ve been checking the past few days and it seems they’re the same ones…

    I seem to remember his site being quite different back when I bought the album. Maybe they vanished when the site changed…?

    Anyway, this blog provides great insights and is a lotta fun to trawl through. Wish I’d found it (and dug deeper into DG’s music) a LOT earlier.

    A,
    Australia

    • FEd

      You remember well, I’m impressed: the site has received a makeover since the album was first launched. There was a special ‘player’ from which you could select the various loops, and the Stuff & Nonsense page still refers to it, but I’ll be damned if I can find it.

      Seven such loops are available for selection from the homepage, of course (just above the Wireman animation).

  37. Paul_C

    Happy new year David and Family and to you FEd for your continued dedication. I promise to be more active in 2011!

    Kindest regards to all,

    Paul

  38. Elisabetta Corsi-Italy N.E.

    Yesterday morning (we sell also welding goggles and welding shields), while I was wearing special glasses together some customers and we were looking together the partial eclipse, I wondered why my first thought has been literally: “…but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.”

    Is there anyone among you who did appreciate this spectacular sight? And in the same day of this unusual event, PF (so we can read in many sites) have ended a legal battle with their record company EMI against the label over whether a deal signed in the pre-download age could be applied to digital sales. In this world full of so much bad news, I mean at least something nice to start the year, at least I hope so.

    Again Happy New Year to Mr. David Gilmour, to everyone of you , and to our (always 1st class) Fed.

    Kind regards / ciao
    Elisabetta

  39. The_Circle

    What is David up to these days? There’s absolutely no news of him. And his website is like frozen in time!!

    Is he working on any new projects? Music projects? FEd? Anyone?

    PS: Happy New Year dudes!! All the best! 😀

    • FEd

      I’ve nothing to report at this time, sorry. I can only promise that this plucky blog will smash through the ice that has encased it over the Christmas and New Year break… tomorrow. But please don’t expect any news, just more of the same random guff for the time being.

  40. tim_c

    Hi F’ed,

    Much to the potential disappointment of the assembled masses, I am taking a career break just so that I can spend more time contributing random guff to the site (oh and raising a puppy at the same time, as chatroom regulars may have noticed 😀 ).

    It’s probably a shame that this coincides with Howard Webb putting on the home shirt again but it was nice to see that traditional haunted look re-appearing on Kenny’s face before half-time.

    One thing you could help me with … can you remind me how I change my avatar? … this one really doesn’t suit me.

    • FEd

      Terrible timing, Tim. 😉

      As for the avatar which appears alongside everyone’s blog comments, this can be changed to an image of your own choosing by signing up to Gravatar, which is completely free and easy. The best thing is that, should you change your e-mail address or just use several of them, you can easily assign as many addresses to your account as you like, meaning that all your recognised addresses will auto-generate the same custom image (either one you’ve uploaded yourself or something that’s automatically designed for you; in the case of this blog, everyone’s a colourful monster unless they sign up and decorate their comments with something more suitable). Your ‘gravatar’ will then dutifully follow you online should you leave comments at a variety of blogs and such like using any of the e-mail addresses connected to your Gravatar account.

      Once signed in, you will find, under My Account, the option to Add an Image as well as Add an Email Address.

    • Michèle

      Happy New Year to you and your family, Tim, and also to the lucky Sasha and Finlay!

    • tim_c

      Ah yes, gravatar … thanks for the reminder F’ed. Hopefully the orange crab is a thing of the past.

      Now let’s see if we can find any reasons to be cheerful about 2010…

    • tim_c

      Not only was the orange crab a thing of the past, in 1984 style, it is as if it was never there at all!