Cliff Richard’s ‘Little Town’ for Christmas No1!
Today, England’s second-greatest Christian institution becomes a septuagenarian.
Not quite as enduring as the quincentennial Church of England, but undoubtedly in a lot better shape.
A survey a decade ago, in which people were asked to name a famous Christian, revealed that Cliff Richard left both the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury trailing.
Like God, Sir Cliff moves in a mysterious way.
He has been ridiculed, mocked, hated, rejected and boycotted.
According to The Guardian, ‘outside of a loyal, ageing fan base, almost no one takes him seriously’.
But even at 70 he is capable of releasing an album which NME notes can give Robbie Williams a run for his money. Bold as Brass fulfils Sir Cliff's lifelong ambition to record a selection of timeless classics from the Great American Songbook with a band of Nashville’s best swing musicians.
This radical rock’n’roll phenomenon uniquely has had number one hits in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s – half a century of religio-celebrity endurance.
The ageless pop icon seems to be without beginning or end.
And in the calendar stakes, he even outsells global icons like Kylie Minogue.
His private life is, well, private. Except we know that the 30-inch waist is apparently a result of three games of tennis a week and a dairy and wheat-free diet. Like all of us, he has fears. And his Mum, Dorothy, died of Alzheimer's.
He does wine and Jesus but he doesn’t do politics, though he did once loan his Barbados villa to a ‘dwindled and haggard’ Tony Blair during his Iraq trauma. "The idea was to do a good deed for someone doing a terrible job," Sir Cliff explained. One hopes, out of non-partisan Christian charity, that he may someday extend the same invitation to David Cameron when the stresses and strains of ‘doing a terrible job’ make him look older than Sir Cliff, which won’t be very long by the looks of things.
After being the first (and only) British artist to secure number ones in every decade from the 50s to the 90s, the spiritual darkness of the new millennium demonically conspired to keep Sir Cliff out of the top slot in the noughties.
His Millennium Prayer of 1999 was his last Number One.
But, God willing, he will have his second coming in the twenteens (or whatever this decade is termed).
The resurrection is long overdue.
And it isn’t merited because he’s sold more units than the Bible (he hasn't), or because he’s been ridiculed and spat upon over the years by industry big-wigs and Radio 2 djs (he has), or because his contribution to the nation’s GDP eclipses that of any other ‘pop’ artist and his charitable efforts and philanthropy are legendary and laudable.
Sir Cliff is worthy of the No1 Christmas slot just because he is.
And, let’s face it, the infallible Simon Cowell now inspires such messianic devotion that X-Factor has become a dangerous quasi-religious cult in danger of sending many deluded millions to musical purgatory, so an injection of artistic authenticity and Christian orthodoxy can do no harm at all.
Especially at Christmas.
Rage Against the Machine achieved it last year, bringing to an end Mr Cowell’s four-year domination of the Christmas charts. They got to number one with nothing more than a hugely popular Facebook campaign culminating in a frenzied Christmas iTunes download.
It was not at all out of spite to X-Factor’s Joe McElderry.
But rather a Cromwellian challenge to Simon Cowell’s notion of Divine Right.
This was the common people versus the King. More than half a million downloaded the band’s anti-authoritarian track ‘Killing in the Name’ in what was undoubtedly a mass protest against the increasing influence of Cowellian manufactured pop music.
And the Machiavelli of music monopoly has schemed and manipulated this year to ensure that his Anointed One is crowned No1 at Christmas by making every X-Factor week an iTunes download week.
Two interminably tedious months of sterile, quirky, plastic karaoke downloads is enough to drive anyone to contemplate another vision of hell.
Can a humble, lowly blog take on the majesty and omnipotence of the heretical trinity of Cowell, ITV and X-Factor?
God was born in a stable.
Carpenters get resurrected.
So perhaps anything is possible.
Except maybe determining Radio 2’s play list: even after Rage Against The Machine defied all the odds and beat Joe McElderry last Christmas, Radio 2 boycotted Rage (as they did Cliff in 1999) and stubbornly plied their listeners interminably with the X-Factor winner.
It may not be possible to raise a hand against the Cowell’s Anointed and be guiltless.
But bearing guilt must be preferable to having another hollow X-Factor fabrication to tinsel the Christmas charts with plagiarised pap.
Which brings us to Cliff Richard’s ‘Little Town’.
Surprisingly, despite it being by far his best-known Christmas single, it never reached No1. In fact, in 1982 when it was released, it didn’t even enter the Top 10.
The campaign to make ‘Litle Town’ the Christmas No1 for 2010 begins here.
And His Grace is delighted to announce that Sir Cliff has generously agreed to donate all the proceeds of ‘Little Town’ Christmas downloads to the Alzheimer’s Research Trust.
So, while the Grinch Cowell’s digital commercial creation will go towards fuelling his private jet and subsidising his fifth mansion at a cost of $22million in Beverly Hills, Sir Cliff’s analogue Christmas carol will be raising money to heal the sick.
When Christmas ceases to be about giving, it ceases to be about Christ.
‘Little Town’ is the spirit of Christmas.
Let’s not only give Sir Cliff Richard his first No1 of another decade, but let’s try to end forever the interminable loneliness caused by dementia in all its forms.
For those who know nothing of this illness, you don’t want to.
Many thousands may feel acutely lonely on Christmas day, but for families of those who suffer with Alzheimer’s, that loneliness can be felt all year round.
Join the Facebook page HERE.
Register your email address for the 13th December download HERE.
Donate to the Alzheimer’s Research Trust HERE.
Please spread the Good News: a Christmas song is coming to the Christmas charts, and it's all about giving.
A wondrous gift indeed.
Happy Birthday, Cliff.