Hear Paul McCartney’s Experimental Christmas Mixtape: A Rare & Forgotten Recording from 1965

If you hear some­one com­plain­ing about the scarci­ty of good Christ­mas music, you know they’re doing some­thing wrong. As we point­ed out a cou­ple years back, you can keep a Christ­mas par­ty going for hours upon hours with hol­i­day clas­sics and funky orig­i­nals from James Brown, John­ny Cash, The Jack­son 5, Dinah Wash­ing­ton, Willie Nel­son, Ella Fitzger­ald, The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, Low, Bad Reli­gion, Christo­pher Lee, The Ven­tures, and so much more besides.

And then there’s the Bea­t­les, whom we wouldn’t ever think of as an acquired taste, but whose Christ­mas records may only appeal to a spe­cial kind of fan, one who appre­ci­ates, and per­haps remem­bers, the band’s aggres­sive­ly cheer­ful spir­it of mar­ket­ing. Through­out the 60s, they made short, whim­si­cal Christ­mas “flexi discs” for fan club mem­bers. These are amus­ing, but hard­ly essen­tial, though I’d rec­om­mend putting 1967’s “Christ­mas Time (Is Here Again)” on any playlist, hol­i­day or oth­er­wise.

While the band made their light and breezy 1965 Christ­mas record, Paul McCart­ney under­took a decid­ed­ly dif­fer­ent hol­i­day solo side project—recording exper­i­men­tal tape loops at home, includ­ing, writes author Richie Unter­berg­er, “singing, act­ing, and sketch­es.” Only “three copies were pressed, one each for John, George, and Ringo.” As McCart­ney him­self described the record­ing, “I put togeth­er some­thing crazy, some­thing left field, just for the oth­er Bea­t­les, a fun thing which they could play late in the evening.”

You can hear what sur­vives of the record­ing above. McCart­ney calls it “Unfor­get­table” and begins the disc in an Amer­i­can announcer’s voice, “a fast-talk­ing New York DJ,” Rolling Stone writes, fol­lowed by Nat King Cole, then “an inven­tive selec­tion of songs by the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, and Martha and the Van­del­las.” McCart­ney described the project as “a mag­a­zine pro­gram: full of weird inter­views, exper­i­men­tal music, tape loops” and “some tracks I knew the oth­ers hadn’t heard.”

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, much of the exper­i­men­ta­tion has not sur­vived, or made it to a dig­i­tal for­mat. Nonethe­less, the tape “might be the ear­li­est evi­dence of the Bea­t­les using home record­ing equip­ment for specif­i­cal­ly exper­i­men­tal/a­vant-garde pur­pos­es,” Unter­berg­er notes, “some­thing that John and Paul did in the last half of the 1960s, though John’s ven­tures in this field are more wide­ly known than Paul’s.” It isn’t Christ­mas music, exact­ly, but when you put it on, you’ll know it began its life as a spe­cial mix­tape McCart­ney made just for his band­mates, not the fans. We might think of it as the hol­i­day album he real­ly want­ed to make.

via Dan­ger­ous Minds/Rolling Stone

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Lis­ten to the Bea­t­les’ Christ­mas Records: Sev­en Vin­tage Record­ings for Their Fans (1963 – 1969)

Stream 22 Hours of Funky, Rock­ing & Swing­ing Christ­mas Albums: From James Brown and John­ny Cash to Christo­pher Lee & The Ven­tures

David Bowie Sends a Christ­mas Greet­ing in the Voice of Elvis Pres­ley

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

by | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.