Christmas Time (Is Here Again)

Album This song officially appears on the Christmas Time Is Here Again! 7" Single.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1967
Timeline This song has been written (or started being written) in 1967 (Paul McCartney was 25 years old)

Related sessions

This song has been recorded during the following studio sessions



Related songs


12-Bar Original

Officially appears on Anthology 2

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Song facts

Each Christmas, from 1963 to 1969, The Beatles sent out musical and spoken messages to members of their official fan club, in the UK and in the US. “Christmas Time Is Here Again!” was the fifth of those tracks, recorded for Christmas 1967. This track featured the eponym song, an original composition which appeared in edited form on the 1967 record, and was officially released in 1995, as part of The Beatles Anthology project.

About the 1967 Christmas track, from Wikipedia:

An elaborate production, Christmas Time Is Here Again! was developed around the concept of several groups auditioning for a BBC radio show. The title song serves as a refrain throughout the record. The Beatles portray a multitude of characters, including game show contestants, aspiring musicians (“Plenty of Jam Jars”, by the Ravellers), and actors in a radio drama (“Theatre Hour”). At the end, Lennon reads a poem, “When Christmas Time Is Over.” This offering was likely a deliberate homage to/continuation of the broadly similar “Craig Torso” specials produced for BBC Radio 1 that same year by the Beatles’ friends and collaborators the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, and also shares much in common with their then-unreleased track “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)“, recorded six months previously.

While UK fans received a flexi-disc in an elaborate sleeve, North American fans received a postcard similar to that of 1966.

From Rolling Stone, December 13, 2020:

Now that the band had mastered their studio domain, the Beatles’ 1967 seasonal message – wrapped in a Sgt. Pepper–like collage of vintage photos created by Lennon and Starr – would be the apex of their Christmas recordings. Recorded back at Abbey Road’s Studio Two on November 28th during a nine-hour marathon session, “Christmas Time Is Here Again!” expands on the sketches of the previous year by adding the only performance among the Beatles’ holiday recordings that could safely be categorized as a proper “Christmas song.” The tune is little more than a holiday mantra, but the Beatles sell it through their full-throated commitment and a clever arrangement reminiscent of their new single, “Hello, Goodbye.” Lennon, ever fond of unusual count-ins (he can be heard intoning “Sugar plum fairy, sugar plum fairy” on early takes of “A Day in the Life”), introduces the song with a hastily exhaled “Interplanetary remix, take 444!” before a lushly multi-tracked chorus of Beatle voices remind listeners that Christmas time is indeed here again.

The plot, scripted by the band the day before, makes about as much sense as “Everywhere It’s Christmas.” The story begins with the Beatles portraying a fictitious group called the Ravellers, on a quest to audition for the BBC. Once they’ve made it past the gatekeeper (played by their friend Victor Spinetti, who had appeared in A Hard Day’s NightHelp! and the yet-to-be-released Magical Mystery Tour) they perform a tap-dance in the “fluffy rehearsal room.” From there it all becomes a bit difficult to follow as the record fades into a fever dream of fractured broadcast clichés including jingles (“Wonderlust for your trousers!”), a noir radio drama called Theater Hour and a game show where the grand prize is a trip to Denver and automatic appointment to “independent candidate for Paddington.” The Ravellers, having apparently passed the audition, return to croon a tune about jam jars across the airwaves for the benefit of injured woman in Blackpool.

A haze of maniacal echo-drenched laughter gives way to the regal voice of George Martin, addressing fans for the first time on the disc. “They’d like to thank you for a wonderful year,” he says with the tone of a kindly but exasperated schoolteacher, before the students repeat his words with mock reverence. Lennon signs off with a Goonish original poem, a sort of lonely Christmas “Jabberwocky” delivered in a thick Scottish brogue over the sound of a wintery gale. “When the beasty brangom button to the heather and little inn,” he says while “Auld Lang Syne” plays softly. “And be strattened oot in ma-tether to yer arms once back again. Och away, ye bonnie.” So ends the Beatles’ last documented recording of their extraordinary year. It would also be the final Christmas disc recorded together by the group as a unit. 

About the 1995 track, from Wikipedia:

Christmas Time (Is Here Again)” (Lennon/McCartney/Harrison/Starkey) is a Christmas song recorded by the Beatles for their 1967 fan club Christmas record. After being slated for inclusion in the planned (but ultimately scrapped) Sessions compilation album in 1985, the song finally saw official re-release in 1995 on the “Free as a Bird” single (issued in conjunction with the Anthology series), for which it was edited from its original 6:17 to a shortened version of 3:03. The song opens with a light-hearted tune from all four of the Beatles and occasionally cuts to a tale of the Beatles arriving at the fictional BBC house. This part of the song was cut from the 1995 single version. The song then closes with a Christmas greeting from all four of the Beatles. At the end, “Auld Lang Syne” is played on the organ as Lennon reads one of his original nonsense free verse poems.

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

  • [a] stereo 1995.
    CD: Apple C2 8 58497 Free as a Bird 1995.

This compilation joins part of the title song to some greetings recorded for radio in 1966 (not for the 1966 Christmas record) to a short spoken performance by John Lennon. The first and last parts, making up almost all of the compilation, were made for the 1967 Christmas record, but the song appears here in very different form, in stereo for the first time, and running longer and including parts not used at all on the Christmas disk.

Last updated on April 13, 2021

Lyrics

Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again

Ain't been 'round since you know when
Christmas time is here again
O U T spells out

Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again

Ain't been 'round since you know when
Christmas time is here again
O U T spells out

Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again

Ain't been 'round since you know when
Christmas time is here again
O U T spells out

Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again
Christmas time is here again

Officially appears on


Christmas Time Is Here Again!

7" Single • Released in 1967

6:06 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Piano, Vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums, Tap dancing, Vocals
John Lennon :
Bass drum, Vocals
George Harrison :
Acoustic guitar, Vocals
George Martin :
Producer, Vocals
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Mal Evans :
Spoken word
Victor Spinetti :
Tap dancing, Vocals
Richard Lush :
Second engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 28, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Nov 28, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road


From Then To You

Official album • Released in 1970

6:06 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Piano, Vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums, Tap dancing, Vocals
John Lennon :
Bass drum, Vocals
George Harrison :
Acoustic guitar, Vocals
George Martin :
Producer, Vocals
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Mal Evans :
Spoken word
Victor Spinetti :
Tap dancing, Vocals
Richard Lush :
Second engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 28, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Nov 28, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road


Christmas Album

Official album • Released in 1970

6:06 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Piano, Vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums, Tap dancing, Vocals
John Lennon :
Bass drum, Vocals
George Harrison :
Acoustic guitar, Vocals
George Martin :
Producer, Vocals
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Mal Evans :
Spoken word
Victor Spinetti :
Tap dancing, Vocals
Richard Lush :
Second engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 28, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Nov 28, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road


Free As A Bird

EP • Released in 1995

3:03 • Studio versionB • From 1963 to 1969 the Beatles gave members of their official fan club a special gift at Christmas: a record unavailable elsewhere. The 1967 disc was titled Christmas Time (Is Here Again) and extracts from a song of that name were scattered among the sketches. Issued here for the first time is an uninterrupted recording of the number. Superimposed near the end are some spoken-word seasonal greetings, taped in 1966, followed by a John Lennon pastiche.

Paul McCartney :
Piano, Vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums, Tap dancing, Vocals
John Lennon :
Bass drum, Vocals
George Harrison :
Acoustic guitar, Vocals
George Martin :
Producer, Vocals
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer, Remix engineer
Mal Evans :
Spoken word
Victor Spinetti :
Tap dancing, Vocals
Richard Lush :
Second engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 28, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Nov 28, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road


The Beatles Christmas Record Box

Official album • Released in 2017

6:06 • Studio versionA2017 • 2017 remaster

Paul McCartney :
Piano, Vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums, Tap dancing, Vocals
John Lennon :
Bass drum, Vocals
George Harrison :
Acoustic guitar, Vocals
George Martin :
Producer, Vocals
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Mal Evans :
Spoken word
Victor Spinetti :
Tap dancing, Vocals
Richard Lush :
Second engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 28, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Nov 28, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Bootlegs


Sessions

Unofficial album • Released in 2011

1:12 • Alternate take


Sessions

Unofficial album • Released in 2011

0:38 • Alternate take


Sessions

Unofficial album • Released in 2011

6:45 • Alternate take


The Beatles Christmas Album

Unofficial album • Released in 2011

6:06 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Piano, Vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums, Tap dancing, Vocals
John Lennon :
Bass drum, Vocals
George Harrison :
Acoustic guitar, Vocals
George Martin :
Producer, Vocals
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Mal Evans :
Spoken word
Victor Spinetti :
Tap dancing, Vocals
Richard Lush :
Second engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 28, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Nov 28, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.

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