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Friday, 10 December 2010

~Winter Wassailing~#6: 'Christmas On Earth' by Momus

A Selection Of Seasonal Songs In The ~Streetlamp~ Stylee!

I'm almost embarrassed to write this one!

Why? Because Momus, a.k.a Nick Currie is one of my favourite artists of all time; up there with The Smiths, The Beatles, Scott Walker and The Fall, yet somehow I have yet to write a proper Blog about him here on the ~Streetlamp~. So, it looks like this short Blog in praise of his fantastic, twisted Christmas track 'Christmas On Earth' is all you're going to get for now.
'Christmas On Earth' featured on Momus' 1993 album 'Timelord'. It was a strange time for Momus, and for music in general! Originally starting out as a wordy intellectual acoustic troubadour, by the early 90s Momus had adopted electronics and dance beats which made him sound not totally unlike The Pet Shop bad thing, I should add.
Ever prolific and not one to hang about, 'Timelord' was Momus' fourth album since the start of the 90s, four albums in three years....not bad going.
'Timelord' was an intriguing album in that all of the songs seemed to be about travel of some kind. Travel not just through geography, but also through time, hence the albums title.
And the final track on the album is the one we are hear to talk about.
Eerie mechanical electronics usher us in, immediately suggesting this is no straight forward Christmas song! Momus then reveals that he is in a spaceship, light years away in the future but finding himself near midnight every day reminiscing about Christmas back on Earth, for one day in space is a whole year to the people back on Earth. There is obvious poignancy in the track for he reveals that, obviously, all his family, friends and loved ones will have long passed away, and that when he does one day return to Earth(if he ever does) all he will have left are memories kept on tape recordings.
A beautiful, glacial electronic paean to the [Griff: "Don't mention Proust!"] Proustian evocation of Christmases past.
Unfortunately I can't find a clip of the studio recording, but here is a fantastic, and rather rare live reading of the song from a show in 1993.

Here are the lyrics in full in case you couldn't make them out in the performance:

"Well I know that on Earth it is Christmas now
And I hope there'll be days in the snow

When I return many light years on

Though my friends will have died long ago

And the rain makes a sound like the asteroids
There are worlds made of ice in the clouds
I'm receiving transmissions they broadcast long ago

They remind me of things I have seen

All the people and cities and crowds

Ring the bells, ring the bells, ring them

Ring the bells, ring the bells, I can still hear them

Here on the way to the stars

About now back on earth it is Christmas time

There'll be logs in the grate, they will burn

I'm alone tape recording memories

For it all will have changed when I return

And the rain is so strange in the Milky Whey

I see cloudscapes of purple and green

Candleabras are shooting off firework displays

And I'm writing the things I have seen

People shopping and sparks from a train
Well I know that on Earth it is Christmas now

But in space time goes by so slow

At the speed of light one single night

Is a year to the people back home"

A beautiful song that will strike a chord with those who will spend this Christmas parted from their loved ones!


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