- Timeline More from year 1969
- UK release date:
- Dec 19, 1969
- LYN 1970/1971
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The final Beatles Christmas offering was also recorded separately, as the band had effectively split by this point. It features an extensive visit with Lennon and his wife Yoko at their Tittenhurst Park estate, where they play “what will Santa bring me?” games. Harrison and Ringo Starr appear only briefly, the latter to publicise his recent film, The Magic Christian. McCartney sings his original ad-lib, “This is to Wish You a Merry, Merry Christmas.” Starting at 1:30, at the tail-end of Starr’s song, the guitar solos from “The End” are heard, followed by Ono interviewing Lennon.
For the only time, the North American and UK album sleeve jackets were identical. The North American version of the flexi-disc had an elaborate collage of the Beatles’ faces on it (drawn by Ringo), while the rear album sleeve contained stick-figure scribbles made by his son, Zak Starkey.
From Rolling Stone, December 13, 2020:
The Beatles existed in name only by the Christmas of 1969, after Lennon famously told his compatriots in September that he wanted “a divorce.” But for fear of disrupting upcoming business deals, as well as a genuine sense of confusion, the band decide to keep any talk of a breakup strictly among themselves. To maintain a sense of normalcy, they dutifully set about recording pieces for yet another Christmas record, once more to be assembled by Everett.
Most of the Beatles opted to tape their pieces in the comfort of their own homes. Ono, who had just contributed anonymous backing piano the previous year, introduces her now-husband as they stroll through the grounds of Tittenhurst Park, their Ascot estate where the final Beatles’ photo session had taken place on August 22nd. Together they stage a jokey interview, ranging from their favorite foods to their place in the decade to come. “I think it’ll be a quite a peaceful Seventies … [peace] and freedom,” Ono opines. As the autumn leaves crunch underfoot, Lennon can’t help but belt “deep and crisp and even” – the line from “Good King Wenceslas” he gleefully butchered on the band’s first Christmas record. Once a fresh 23-year-old having a laugh with his mates, he’s now an adult superstar, roaming his palatial estate with his wife, preaching peace to the globe. Even now, the monumental six-year leap remains difficult to comprehend.
McCartney performs another inviting acoustic original, this one titled “This Is to Wish You.” Music will remain his preferred method for bringing peace to those who endured the tumultuous decade he had helped to shape – as well soothe his own soul during the uncertain time. Starr sings a song of his own, a goofy ad-libbed tune, and manages to work in a plug for his new film, The Magic Christian with Peter Sellers, whose radio work with The Goon Show can be felt in each of the Beatles’ Christmas discs. Harrison, however, remains unwilling to submit to this last vestige of mop-toppery. His contribution, a single line uttered at the London offices of Apple Records, runs six seconds long.
Among recordings of Christmas choirs and pipe organs pulled from the tape vault, Everett utilized another preexisting piece of music: “The End” from the Beatles’ swan song, Abbey Road. Perhaps even he had an inkling that this would be the last offering of its kind from the group. He ensures that the concluding sound heard on what would prove to be the final Beatles Christmas record is that of laughter, a fitting reminder of the inherent good humor that runs throughout the band’s works. Even to the bitter end, the Beatles could be counted on to raise a smile.