Papa Don't Preach: Praise be for carols

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Snoopy's Christmas is one of the most well loved Christmas carols around, despite it being less Christmas-y than most. Photo / Supplied.
Snoopy's Christmas is one of the most well loved Christmas carols around, despite it being less Christmas-y than most. Photo / Supplied.

When I was just a wee little boy I always wondered why Snoopy's Christmas by the Royal Guardsmen was actually a Christmas song.

Yes, I know they were singing about "the night before Christmas" and Christmas bells ringing through the land.

But back then I guess all I heard was the planes buzzing round in the background and the Guardsmen singing about Snoopy and the Red Baron going into battle.

It was even more poignant for me because we had a dog called Snoopy.

And being only five or six at the time I never bothered to find out why it was a Christmas song alongside more self-explanatory classics such as Jingle Bells and Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

And anyway, it didn't matter because Snoopy was my favourite yuletide song along with the lope and pa rum pum pum pum of Little Drummer Boy (which was kind of like the alternative hip-hop of festive songs).

I tell ya, the Roots should do a cover of it.

Now then, having done a bit of research on Snoopy's Christmas this week, it seems it has quite a bit to do with Christmas - as well as life during wartime.

You know the bit that goes:

The Baron made Snoopy fly to the Rhine
And forced him to land behind the enemy lines
Snoopy was certain that this was the end
When the Baron cried out, 'Merry Christmas, my friend!'

Well, that olive branch to Snoopy from the German fighter pilot is an allusion to the Christmas Truce whereby ceasefires took place along the Western Front in the Christmas period of 1914.

We at TimeOut now suspect the song is the secret inspiration behind PJ Harvey's World War I-influenced Let England Shake - only her album (which is a standout on our top 30 albums of 2011) has a bit more death and mayhem thrown in.

We also think Peter Jackson should make the film version of the song because he likes flying and he's got the planes already. In fact, perhaps that's why The Dam Busters is seemingly on hold because he's doing Snoopy's Christmas first.

Also, did you know the song reached No 1 in New Zealand upon its release in 1967? Why? I have no idea. But it's a pretty good Christmas song, unlike stinkers such as Do They Know It's Christmas (Feed the World), which was for a good cause but a dog of a song.

And I Saw Mummy Kissing Santa Claus - "I did, I really did see mummy kissing Santa Claus, and I'm gonna tell my dad" - was just plain creepy, especially for a little tacker like me.

And while I always scoffed at straight-laced TV show Praise Be on Sunday mornings, I have to say its new double album - yes, that's right, I tell ya, if it was available on vinyl it would come out in a gatefold cover - is a mighty fine listen.

Because there's nothing like a good hymn to fortify one's soul - and ready you for feasting.

Still, nothing beats Snoopy's Christmas. So let me hear you sing it ... "Christmas bells those Christmas bells, ringing through the land ..."

- NZ Herald

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