Dec 07

MUD – “Lonely This Christmas”

FT + Popular41 comments • 7,609 views

#362, 21st December 1974

I was all ready to give this a pasting before seeing the video on TMF’s Ultimate 40 Christmas Songs melted my Scroogeian heart. Or perhaps froze it still further, as what the video did was make me appreciate what a marvellously cynical record this is. Not just the basic cynicism of releasing a Christmas song, rushing in to fill the gap Slade had punched the year before (anyway, releasing Christmas songs is such a basic part of pop it barely qualifies as cynical: if you refuse a grab at this particular brass ring you should probably have your pop license revoked) – “Lonely This Christmas” is one of pop’s most brazenly manipulative guilt trips.

It’s all there in the video – the members of Mud, looking like they’re fighting to choke back sobs as their pitiful tale unfolds; their leader’s face a mask of wounded dignity, only his colossal spectacles hiding his utmost grief. The template for “Lonely This Christmas” is transparently Elvis, specifically “Are You Lonesome Tonight”, but the sentiment in that song is but a light dusting of snowflakes compared to the full-on blizzard of passive-aggressive mopery Mud unleash. To be honest the chorus isn’t all that, but the verses ramp things up nicely (“an UNLIT CHRISTMAS TREE!”) and then the spoken word section is a triumph of the very ripest corn, shovelling on the heartbreak – “this is the time of year when you really…you really NEED love” – in defiance of firstly shame and secondly the very terrible acting skills on display. The payoff line is but the star on top of the tree.

If you’re coming back to Popular after Christmas and reading this, I hope you’ll forgive my indulgence of its festive sentiment – and I hope you had a very good time. If you’re reading this on Christmas Eve, then all I can say is, Merry Christmas Readers … *choke* … wherever you are.



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  1. 31
    Waldo on 8 Jan 2008 #

    Uncle Ray really pushed his luck with that one, didn’t he? Goodbye Crimbo tucker. Mind you, bringing in the sprogs for the final chorus was not new. I’m not inviting an exhaustive list but obviously Roy Wood springs to mind a year earlier. But whereas I would gladly sing along with Roy’s kids, I would hand Gilbert’s little bastards over to King Herod in the blink of an eye.

  2. 32
    intothefireuk on 22 Mar 2008 #

    It seems mightily odd to be commenting on (& listening to) a Christmas song out of the season of goodwill but I will try my best & suffer for the cause. This song resonates with me primarily because it soundtracked one of my first ’embarrassing moments with members of the opposite sex’ type incidents. It was the annual school Xmas disco 1974 & having spent most of the evening standing with my mates trying to look cool and eyeing up the talent I had taken the plunge and managed to grab a particularly foxy chick (using the parlance of the time), somewhat suprisingly, for the last dance. Enter the cruel & mocking tones of Les Gray whereupon I decided, in my wisdom, to sing-a-long with the record. Now I’m not saying I can’t sing – that wasn’t the problem – I just wasn’t aware that you didn’t do that cos it’s extremely naff & uncool. It wasn’t until the song was pretty much through that I realised I wasn’t getting the favoured response I had hoped for and my singing kind of trailed off – leaving, as the record ended, an uneasy silence. A tumbleweed moment followed after which I hastily retreated to the comfort of the school bar. Needless to say nothing further occured between us but the young lady in question, bless her, did at least have the grace not to mention it again. All that aside, I loved Mud and at this stage they could pretty much do no wrong. This was another fine glam era Xmas song which, when I’m listening properly (ie not in a shop !- can’t we go back to muzak ?) I still enjoy. You don’t see too many bands use the dummy routine nowadays do you ?

  3. 33
    Julie Lawson on 11 Jan 2009 #

    Jerry Lawson, former lead singer, arranger & producer of The Persuasions is my husband. Don’t be too sad about him leaving The Persuasions!! He has a new a cappella CD with 20 tracks, an hour of eclectic material & a 20 page booklet! 2 Cds in one. I hope you check it out. He’s smokin’ !!!!

  4. 34
    Jade on 27 Aug 2009 #

    I really enjoyed reading this post. ‘Lonely This Christmas’ is a mainstay of festive songs. Amidst the wonder of the Turkey and the Roast Potatoes, another popular British dish around Christmas time is cheese. No more so than when Mud unleashed this prime cheddar on an unsuspecting public. Christmas parties, office Christmas parties in particular, have not been the same since this muddy lot began a tug of war with our heart strings all those years ago.

  5. 35
    ottersteve on 12 Oct 2009 #

    Please insert “POPULAR ’74” here.

    I need to vote NOW!!

  6. 36
    Andrew Farrell on 14 Dec 2013 #

    (can’t believe I forgot this – only came up because there’s a few around the end of the answer to the question “What’s the only UK #1 that doesn’t include its own title in its lyrics, but is succeeded by a song whose title it does contain?” which came up in conversation at my work Christmas party)

  7. 37
    Mark G on 15 Dec 2013 #

    Don’t Know

  8. 38
    inakamono on 18 Dec 2013 #

    re 36: Queen/ABBA combo ?

  9. 39
    lonepilgrim on 1 Nov 2019 #

    This embodies the worst tendencies of the C list glam outfits that had been clogging up the charts – a 50s style pastiche delivered with fake sincerity and the hint of a wink to suggest it’s all a big laugh. Ghastly

  10. 40
    Gareth Parker on 7 Jun 2021 #

    Don’t think I can go above 3/10 with this one.

  11. 41
    Andrew F on 8 Jun 2021 #

    #38: 8 years later, yes! Bohemian Rhapsody doesn’t mention a Bohemian Rhapsody, but does go ‘Mamma Mia’ at one memorable point.

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