May 08

JOHNNY MATHIS – “When A Child Is Born (Soleado)”

FT + Popular48 comments • 5,070 views

#398, 25th December 1976

Thought of as a Christmas single, because of when it charted, this of course is actually a rare Number One hit that takes as its theme the Second Coming, which will be marked, according to Mathis, by everyone feeling quite nice for a little bit. Reducing the eschatalogical theology of the Christian faith to “Superbaby is coming to save us” lessens the record’s evangelical power but probably makes it more bearable: this is inoffensive schlock which glides by easily without ever threatening to win me over. That’s the fault of the material, not Mathis, who puts in a creamy, kindly performance: a bad record, but a good advert for its singer.



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  1. 31
    SteveM on 21 May 2008 #

    and at #28 for this week I see Jethro Tull’s ‘Ring Out Solstice Bells’ – any cop?

  2. 32
    DJ Punctum on 21 May 2008 #

    Not really – can’t find it on YouTube but it’s a regular on TOTP2.

    Also, further down, the totally ghastly “Here’s To Love” by John Christie which turns “Auld Lang Syne” into a godawful plodding ballad.

  3. 33
    Billy Smart on 21 May 2008 #

    Anticipate more on this theme when we get to 1999…

  4. 34
    Jonathan Bogart on 21 May 2008 #

    I really only know Mathis from the beginning of his career in the 1950s, when he slotted somewhere between Sinatra and teen idols like Bobby Vinton. I don’t know about later, but then he had a tendency to oversing everything, much like the Pop/American Idols of today. He had the voice for it, but after entire albums of creamy falsettos and reaching-for-the-stars finales, I’m Mathised out.

  5. 35
    Snif on 22 May 2008 #

    In the Antipodes we endured six weeks of Chicago’s “If You Leave Me Now” at No. 1 – still, it was better than what was to follow.

  6. 36
    Erithian on 22 May 2008 #

    Slipping steadily down the charts that month, it’s worth noting today, were Manchester United, seemingly heading for the relegation places after eight defeats on the trot when skipper Martin Buchan was injured. Wonder if Waldo’s still speaking to me this morning?

    The story goes that if Johnny Mathis hadn’t been signing a record deal on the same day as the US Olympic trials in 1956 he’d have been a shoo-in as a US entrant in the high jump. Can anyone verify this?

  7. 37
    DJ Punctum on 22 May 2008 #

    Man Utd at that stage also counted as one of the few acts whose chart career consisted solely of one week at number 50 – their imaginatively-titled 1976 effort “Manchester United.”

    Lucky last night or what?

  8. 38
    Erithian on 22 May 2008 #

    The whole thing hung on such slender threads – if JT hadn’t slipped Chelsea would have won, but if Van der Sar hadn’t slipped they might not have equalised, if Tevez’ studs had been any longer it could have been 2-0, etc etc. I’ve always thought a penalty shootout means the two sides are equal in quality but someone has to be given the trophy. Hard not to feel sorry for JT, Lamps and Grant, although on the other hand I could watch Kenyon, Anelka and Cashley crying all night.

    I mentioned earlier that “Manchester United” the no 50 hit single was written by Tony Hiller, one of the co-writers of “Save Your Kisses For Me”.

  9. 39
    LondonLee on 22 May 2008 #

    Lucky, lucky bastards. Same as last time they won it.

  10. 40
    Jungman Jansson on 23 May 2008 #

    So THAT’s where Mark ‘Oh got the soppy aaah-ing in “Tears Don’t Lie” from. I had no idea.

  11. 41
    SteveM on 23 May 2008 #

    Oh no, Mark ‘Oh! Actually I did like ‘Love Song’…

  12. 42
    intothefireuk on 24 May 2008 #

    Now generally I like Christmas songs but this particular one over eggs it’s sentimentality & I’ve never been fully convinced it is a bona fide Crimble song. It’s more along the lines of I Believe which is more about faith & hope than tradional Christmas subjects. My Xmas song of choice this year was Tull’s ‘Ring Out Solstice Bells’ which at least mentioned the Solstice & indeed had bells in it.

    Having had a sneak preview of next years number ones I think we are in for a very bleak time. If I was going to miss any year out on Popular it would almost certainly be next year. There has never been a huge correlation between what’s actually happening in music & the number one slot but next year there looks to be a complete disparity (unless you count a certain infamous number two).

  13. 43
    Lena on 24 May 2008 #

    I just read the lyrics (I don’t know the song) and it seems to be very conditional…praising the birth of babies in general – aw babies, they make everything good! – and then in the spoken part, talkng about how nice it would be IF a certain baby happened to come along…it’s more wistful than anything else…

  14. 44
    Tom on 24 May 2008 #

    #42: well, we’ll wait and see, but I think there’s at least one absolutely epochal, game-changing #1 coming up. No further discussion till we get there, though!

  15. 45
    Erithian on 27 May 2008 #

    OK, no bunny bait, but let me guess – the one you’re thnking of, would it have drawn wistful, ironic smiles from Chicory Tip’s HQ?

  16. 46
    Waldo on 28 May 2008 #

    This was “Mary’s Boy Child” revisited, it seems to me (bugger off, Bunny. I’m talking about Harry) but with less sincerity. The carol is sweet enough and even Johnny’s “And all this happens because the world is waiting…” talkabout blurb fits in well enough so that one is not seriously inclined at the conclusion of the subsequent last chorus to deposit one’s comfortably digesting yuletide roast on top of one’s unsuspecting cat, who is in a deep and peaceful slumber on the sofa, having consumed the same. But the song is just too twee for my liking and Johnny’s starry delivery is identical from those of his non-levitical offerings. Basically, it’s just another day at the MOR office for the famously light-footed Mr Mathis and I’m afraid it shows.

  17. 47
    lonepilgrim on 14 Nov 2019 #

    not a fan of Christmas schmaltz – give me bleakness or jollity

  18. 48
    Gareth Parker on 2 Jun 2021 #

    #31 Personally I like the Tull Xmas record. 4/10 for Johnny imho.

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