There’s a whole lot of Beatles gift-giving, and crate-digging, going on this holiday season. This past weekend saw the streaming release of The Beatles: Get Back, Peter Jackson’s three-part documentary series that dives deep into hours of new archival footage from the Let It Be sessions. The mondo series purports to shine a more constructive light on what has previously been agreed upon to be a sour period in the band’s arc.
Taking a plunge into a decidedly more chipper chapter of the Beatles lore is Spoon, who have released a holiday cover from the Fab Four called “Christmas Time (Is Here Again).” “Christmas Time (Is Here Again)” is a deep cut that didn’t see the light of day (at least in terms of a proper commercial release) until very recently. The track made an appearance on The Beatles Anthology soundtrack, but it wasn’t until 2017 that “Christmas Time (Is Here Again)” appeared in a limited-edition box set that reissued The Beatles’ myriad Christmas records — which were issued annually and directly to fan club members between 1963 and 1969.
The Beatles’ holiday missives through those years ranged from classic and earnest to tossed-off and goofy. Landing somewhere in the middle of that sliding scale, both in chronology and tone, is 1967’s “Christmas Time (Is Here Again).” The track finds the band fusing some of their Magical Mystery Tour-era Technicolor whimsies and mantra-like lyrics with their long-held business obligations to dote on/kid/troll their most devoted fan club members, dangling in the band’s artistic periphery at that point like a presumptuous and possibly unwelcome bit of mistletoe.
The fact that the band kept their Christmas fan club records alive at the height of their most experimental period makes for unusual tension and mischievous snark. It’s a perfect sweet spot for Spoon to pick up the track and run with it. So says Spoon in a statement with the single’s release: “Recording ‘Christmas Time Is Here Again’ was a group effort that pulled us away from rehearsals and sent us speeding down a path fueled by what you might call the Christmas spirit. And it’s our song with the most band members doing vocals ever – pretty sure you can count four. THE WAR ON CHRISTMAS IS OVER.”
Check out Spoon’s cover below, as well as a modified mix of “Christmas Time (Is Here Again)” from The Beatles Anthology. Here’s hoping we’ll have a few non-holiday covers to share from Spoon in the new year ahead as well — the band are gearing up to release their first new record in five years, the amazingly-titled Lucifer on the Sofa.