Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Sound and Video - 'Walking in the Air'; late winter schedule

If anybody reading this is an Anglophile, you should love this. If you're British or even Irish, you should already know it (and made up your opinion on it). It is (or at least the first four minutes of it are) the song 'Walking in the Air' from the animated children's film The Snowman:

"'Walking in the Air' is a song written by Howard Blake for the 1982 animated film of Raymond Briggs' 1976 children's book The Snowman. In the film the song was performed by St. Paul's Cathedral choirboy Peter Auty. For the subsequent single release, which reached number five in the UK pop charts, the vocals were sung by Welsh chorister Aled Jones, who became a popular celebrity on the strength of his performance...

The song forms the centrepiece of The Snowman, which has become a seasonal perennial on British television. The story relates the fleeting adventures of a young boy, and a snowman who has come to life. In the second part of the story, the boy and the snowman fly to the North Pole. "Walking in the Air" is the theme for the journey. They attend a party of snowmen, at which the boy is the only human. They meet Father Christmas and his reindeer, and the boy is given a scarf with a snowman pattern."


The story was enchanting for me as a child, though a temperate climate and global warming have meant I've hardly ever experienced a 'White Christmas' (I've experienced snow, of course, just usually in January or February and often only up in the hills). 'Walking in the Air', with all its fantastical beauty and choral grace, is a little bit like 'Silent Night' or other religious Christmas songs, although The Snowman is completely secular: simply a reflection of the domestic, rustic even, non-commercial experience of Christmas,which has itself become part of seasonal popular culture in Britain and beyond.

The song has strong pre-Christmas connotation as well, though, because in Ireland it has been used for years as part of An Post advert for Christmas stamps, which obviously starts showing early in December. Unfortunately that clip (which uses an excerpt of the film) isn't on YouTube, but you can watch the full film, in better quality than the video above, introduced by David Bowie, that king of pop and oddly quaint British culture (see the film Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (aka 'Senjou no Merii Kurisumasu', aka Furyo). The 'Walking in the Air' song itself is spread between further sections 2 and 3.

In continuance of the spirit of giving, here's a sort-of Christmas song from that dude who played electric viola in the Velvet Underground:

John Cale - 'A Child's Christmas in Wales' from Paris 1919 (1973)


However, since it is a bit early for all this, be assured that I should have something far more punk rock (and vinyl) to post closer to Christmas. In the meantime, the schedule should also include these following posts:

- Pennywise vs. Fucked Up: Punk Rock 1998-2008 (a follow-up to The Shape of Punk To Come: 2001-2007)

- Lydia Lunch - 'Frankie Teardrop' 10" (same series as the Springsteen/Suicide record I posted back in October)

- Regulator Watts - The Aesthetic of No-Drag and The Mercury CD (continuing, and indeed concluding the major part of, the Alex Dunham guitar-melting part of the Hoover Genealogy Project, after handing over the Fred Erskine/June of 44 side to Time Isn't On My Side)

- Slint - 'Glenn'/'Rhoda' 10" and Mogwai - 'Batcat' 12" (this one's been dragging on for a while, and The Hawk is Howling doesn't seem to be ranking very highly in year-end lists thus far; but - obviously the important thing - I do have some nice photographs of these records. Plus 'Batcat' is still an amazing song)

- Possibly some more end-of-year mixtapes, more genre-specific (e.g. best of punk). However, I'll try and wait for more lists to be put up by other people, so I can get the fullest inspiration, range of inputs, etc.


Jared Dillon said...

oh man! i used to watch this videotape when i was kid nonstop, literally my favorite "christmas" video ever. i love the way they do the animation and this song was always stuck in my head. thanks gabba for reminding me of this!

gabbagabbahey said...

"the way they do the animation" - I know! The pastels!

Matt said...

This brings back memories. I completely forgot about this video. Kind of eerie.

Looking forward to the Regulator Watts post- very excited to see what you have to say. I've been trying to listen to them more and get a better grasp on the records.

Speaking of Regulator Watts, just got my vinyl copy of In Their Strange White Armour. I must thank you, I probably wouldn't have known of Radio Flyer had it not been for your post. Definitely a wonderful record. R is for Rocket? Beauty.

gabbagabbahey said...

so this is shown in the US as well then? interesting.

my proper Christmas-related vinyl arrived today, so that's all set to go one I rip + photograph it.

Matt - yeah, I need some time to get my head around Regulator Watts as a whole. but the Radio Flyer LP is pure gold.

Soft Lad said...

I grew up beside those hills in that lovely animated film, and Raymond Briggs lived nearby too. When we were little we would ride our sledges down those hills, it felt they went on forever. This year I took a trip back the Downs and the windmills and I was up the top before I knew it!!! Kinda took the glory out of that place for me. 'When the Wind Blows' was always my favourite Raymond Briggs book/film.