Date: 7 December 2013
Originally published in: The Times (UK)
I love the way Christmas gets family and friends together – I know that sends a shudder down some people’s spines but for me it’s always been a really joyful time. My father (the musician Marty Wilde) is always the first one to grab a guitar and we all start singing with him.
It’s important that Christmas songs come from a very genuine place. With those bombastic songs from the Seventies – Slade, Wizzard, Elton John’s ‘Step into Christmas’ – you can tell that they were written from direct experience. I feel very lucky that I was a teenager then. I’ve come to know Roy Wood of Wizzard and sung ‘I Wish It Could be Christmas Every Day’ with him on stage, so it’s a lovely circle.
Last Christmas I was filmed singing ‘Kids in America’ on the train to Welwyn Garden City, and it ended up on YouTube. I was having a bloody good night out with my brother! That was actually one of the inspirations for doing my own Christmas album, because of the way that the public reacted. They found the whole thing so amusing and they didn’t write me off as some tragic housewife from Hertfordshire.
CHRISTMAS SONGS BY FRANK SINATRA
This is the earliest one I remember being played at home. Sinatra is the guvnor especially at Christmas Winter Wonderland, Let it Snow comes out every Christmas. There was so much emotion in his voice – a bit of vulnerability but at the same time consummate craftmanship.
HOLIDAY SONGS AND LULLABIES BY SHAWN COLVIN
A very laidback album, simply produced. Colvin is an American artist with a beautiful voice – she does a stunning version of In the Bleak Midwinter.
TINSEL AND LIGHTS BY TRACEY THORN
When I was having my son in hospital she was having her twins. I got in touch with her because someone said I might like this. I just thought, wow! I love how personal it is.
CHRISTMAS BY MICHAEL BUBLE
A slightly more traditional route – I just love his dulcet tones. He’s not ashamed to go down that sentimental road. It sounds easy but things that sound easy often aren’t.
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY BY SLADE
It’s so accessible, telling the story of Christmas in a joyful way: putting up your stocking, you family arriving…
WHITE WINTER HYMNAL BY FLEET FOXES
We grew up singing harmonies as a family, and I knew my dad would love this song. He, my brother and I cover it on my album.