Thursday, October 14, 2010

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.


Blogger Gnostic said...

Sorry, Your Grace, but no. I may well give to an Alzheimer charity (I support local charities as a rule) but not in a way that makes Cliff feel any smugger than he already is.

14 October 2010 at 08:04  
Anonymous martindsewell said...

Ever the teller of truth, Tony Blair did indeed do a "terrible job" as Prime Minister.

14 October 2010 at 08:18  
Anonymous len said...

Cliff is the antithesis of the whole Cowell ' glitterai' cult of self promotion and self indulgence fuelled by greed and pride with more than a dash of arrogance.

Happy Birthday Cliff.

14 October 2010 at 08:52  
Blogger Gary said...

Sorry, but the Alzheimer’s Research Trust is a member of the AMRC (who murder human embryos in their work), so, as a Bible-believing christian, I cannot support your campaign (as much as I might admire Sir Cliff). Sigh.

14 October 2010 at 08:56  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Gary,

The campaign is to get 'Little Town' to No1. There is no compulsion to give a specific donation to the charity.

14 October 2010 at 09:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gave to the charity, will have to think about the download as it isn't (in my opinion) one of his great songs.

May the Lord help us all in our efforts to be better people.

14 October 2010 at 09:49  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Gary,

His Grace understands your concerns, but draws your attention to THIS.

It is therefore possible to support the campaign to get Sir Cliff to the No1 Christmas slot without supporting embryo research. His Grace has clarified that this is possible for all donations.

So, you may now participate!

14 October 2010 at 10:40  
OpenID Scottspeig said...

Your Grace,

While I admire your attempt to get a christian song at No.1 at christmas, you have failed in the same vain as when there was a group trying to get Tim Hughes to No.1 at Easter.

When Cliff got his last No.1, it was because it was a brilliant song. I have not heard of "Little Town" and so shall check it out.

Trying to get christians to agree on a song is problematic at best. However, Sir Cliff has (in my opinion) a better chance to succeed than Tim Hughes since Sir Cliff has a larger (if somewhat older) fanbase.

14 October 2010 at 11:00  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms Scottspeig,

His Grace thanks you for your comment, but he begs to differ.

There is nothing in popular culture or at the forefront of the minds of Christians or the churches as an 'Easter No1'. An attempt to get any artist into that slot was therefore counter-intuitive: they were attempting to pioneer a 'secular' chart initiative while simultaneously inculcating a new consciousness among Christians.

Indeed, the battle is as fraught with complexities as creating an Eid No1 or a Diwali No1.

Conversely, the Christmas No1 slot is already a national institution. It is even hallowed and much sought after. Unlike Tim Hughes, Sir Cliff has already held the position three times. But 'Little Town', arguably his best-known Christmas song, never even entered the Top 10, let alone achieve No1.

And His Grace has never heard anyone describe The Millennium Prayer as 'a brilliant song'...

14 October 2010 at 11:40  
Blogger Ruth Gledhill said...

It worked with Rage Against the Machine so why not with Little Town? Go for it! I've blogged it at The Times as well.

14 October 2010 at 11:54  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Cranmer your knowledge of popular music comes as a surprise, do you also sport a tattoo and earing or perhaps your current "physical" state doesn't allow for that?

Ruth Gledhill

Nice try but you will have to do better is you want to tempt us behind the Times paywall

14 October 2010 at 12:04  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

Spookily enough, a minstrel called Clyffe Rychard sang at His Grace’s immolation. Congratulations was hardly the best choice of song but there we are.

14 October 2010 at 14:18  
Anonymous Giles said...

OK, it's a bit pedantic, but doesn't the new decade start in 2011? In which case, if Cliff gets the Xmas 2010 number one, he will have achieved a number one in every decade since the 50s... and if it stays in the charts till January, that'd be a 7 decades in a row.

Now that's what I call a record that's never going to beaten.

14 October 2010 at 14:37  
Anonymous LDS said...


You should enrol Mr Dale he is a Cliff fan

14 October 2010 at 14:54  
Blogger Demetrius said...

Persoanlly, I preferred Una Stubbs

14 October 2010 at 15:59  
Blogger Caedmon's Cat said...

Caedmon and I live next to a cliff that is full of ancient fossils. Would this happen to be one of them?

14 October 2010 at 16:23  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...

Jared Gaites doesn't do facebook Your Grace, but he has a close friend whom does. I have registered my email adress for the download.

Graham Davis:

What IS your problem?

14 October 2010 at 17:28  
Anonymous Dick the Prick said...

Your Grace

Absolutely not. But my mum will love it. She never tires of telling the story of how her brother worked back stage at a club in the 60's and Cliff gave her a kiss on the cheek.

Good plan.


14 October 2010 at 17:31  
Anonymous tory boys never grow up said...

"with a band of Nashville’s best swing musicians"

I think you will find that Nashvile is famous for country music rather than swing.

As you say the X factor is enough to make anyone contemplate another vision of hell - and if there is a hell I'm sure my version will have plenty of muzak featuring Cliff. Nearly all Christmas music is garbage anyway - the only honourable exceptions imho are the Ballad of New York and strangely enough I quite like carol singing and Salvation Army bands.

14 October 2010 at 17:33  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Dick the Prick,

Then please tell your Mum.

His Grace will then kiss the other cheek.

In a non-corporeal sense.

14 October 2010 at 17:35  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Well, I recall my significantly elder sisters, taking me, as a young whipper-snapper, to the cinema to see Cliff's early films.

Now, he is seventy, and still looks twenty-five years younger than me!

Is it merely 'clean living' or a Methistophelian pact he has going here? Or is he Faust amongst equals??? (sorry!)

Good on you Sir Cliff, and bugger the rest!

14 October 2010 at 17:49  
Anonymous Me said...

John Lennon will be 30 years murdered in December. If they re-release his Xmas ditty to co-inide with this event then Cliff is toast

14 October 2010 at 18:26  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Me - there's nowt wrong with toast lad!

14 October 2010 at 18:29  
Blogger I am Stan said...

Your Grace,

Though I respect your judgment on many things,I will never ever,ever,ever buy,promote or support a Cliff Xmas song

Xmas would be ruined if I new I had played a part in "Little Town" being number one,my xmas spirit could not bear it and no amount of prayer could cleanse the spiritual wound.

14 October 2010 at 18:53  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr I am Stan,

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

14 October 2010 at 18:57  
Anonymous Dick the Prick said...

Your Grace

Certainly will - she loves him. She got autographs of all the Beatles too but gave 'em away. The fans are crazy go nuts though. I worked with a lady and the calendar sales sound disturbingly true, it was a bit of a joke but we genuinely used to see what Cliff was doing in the month ahead!!

I can understand why people are quite offended by Simon Cowell but he has to work for it; people like Cliff, Robert Plant, Neil Diamond, Michael Bolton etc etc... the list goes on. These lads sold albums and have more capital than Cowell could dream of. Simon Cowell's an arriviste, a wannabe selling wannabees - bravo!

The Wimbledon thing was pitch perfect timing but you can't really blame youngsters for having a bit of a chuckle and not getting it. I genuinely don't get Elvis, genuinely don't - yeah, he was alright, guy could sing - different generation.

He sounds like a good man.


14 October 2010 at 19:38  
Anonymous Dick the Prick said...

Ooh, handbags between Jon Snow and Kelvin McKenzie on Channel 4 - McKenzie seems uncomfortable in his skin. Interwwwwwesting!

14 October 2010 at 19:40  
Blogger Preacher said...

Cliff's O.K although I've never been a great fan, I admire his stand for his faith despite all the brickbats & ridicule that he has faced in his career, he has always remained calm & cheerful, often making his would be detractors appear ignorant and churlish. If he is going to release a christmas single then surely a new song would be better than a re-release?

14 October 2010 at 21:03  
Blogger tory boys never grow up said...

Could this be a subject where D Singh has a different view form that of HG? We need to be told - Churches have split on smaller differences!

14 October 2010 at 22:23  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Anyone located 'no nonny' yet???

15 October 2010 at 01:43  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Eartha Kitt's 'Santa Baby' is the best Christmas Carol this communicant has yet heard. Best of luck with Sir Cliff, Your Grace.

15 October 2010 at 07:44  
Blogger D. Singh said...


I’m afraid I don’t know much about popular music nor how the industry works. However, I can appreciate man’s works of art from the earliest cave drawings that we never find located next to the bones of animals. Animals don’t do drawings of each other.

Clearly there is a missing link – and one that will never be found: for man alone was made in the image of God.

15 October 2010 at 10:44  
Anonymous Preacher said...

Well said Mr Singh & that's just the tip of the creation iceberg. From the cosmos to the microscopic the whole of creation bears witness to its maker.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

15 October 2010 at 11:45  
Anonymous tory boys never grow up said...

D Singh

It's just not true that other animals cannot create art - google and find the evidence if you wish. They just don't do it as well (although may be in doubt if you see the X Factor and Cliff Richard as the pinnacle of our specie's achievement) - you may attribute this to God or just to evolution, but it really isn't a convincing argument either way. And that isn't to deny that some artists haven't been inspired by their belief in all sorts of things including God.

15 October 2010 at 14:00  
Anonymous bluedog said...

D Singh

TBGNU has a point, for example horses react to music in a clearly identifiable way.

15 October 2010 at 21:48  
Blogger Preacher said...

I believe that Mr Singh's post did not mention art as such but simply stated that animals didn't draw pictures of each other.
having seen some of the 'art' that some galleries show one feels that many things, in fact most things could loosely be viewed as art by some undiscerning individuals.

15 October 2010 at 21:48  
Anonymous Preacher said...

Apologies. that should be to TBNGU. It's getting late & it's been a looong day.

15 October 2010 at 21:58  
Blogger Wyrdtimes said...

"God was born in a stable" WTF?

16 October 2010 at 00:42  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...


Horses react to fire in a clearly identifiable way also.


This may come as a complete shock for you to hear this but Christians believe that Jesus was/is a third part of the Trinity known as God. And Jesus was born in a stable, of sorts.

So there you you have it, the Good News. For further information see the New Testament in the Holy Bible.

God Bless you sir/madam. And Peace be with you.

16 October 2010 at 09:32  
Blogger D. Singh said...

TBNGU and blue dog

My memory is a little hazy; could you just remind me the name of the 14th century chimpanzee whose work of art sold at Christies for £3 M the other day?

16 October 2010 at 11:57  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Brunelleschi? Dunno. The point I was trying to make is that some animals are able to show a form of artistic expression. The example I chose was the ability of horses to 'dance' to music. If that doesn't square with your theological convictions, tough.

love bluedog

16 October 2010 at 12:58  
Anonymous Peggy from Porcupine said...

If I, a Canadian, buy will this count towards the vote, too?

16 October 2010 at 18:45  
Blogger Caedmon's Cat said...

It would be nice if Cliff Richard were to sing a 'Rage Against The Machine' song for this year's Christmas song: that would be a quintessentially Anglican solution. Caedmon doesn't like my idea, though. But I'm not sure that his suggestion of Gregorian chant would even sniff the charts..

18 October 2010 at 11:48  
Anonymous Linda1978 said...

Thank you - great campaign and very entertaining article!

Little Town is a beautiful, classic, almost majestic song perfect for Christmas. It has the same lyrics as the traditional carol, Oh little town of Bethlehem, but a different (and much improved) musical arrangement.

Good luck!!

28 October 2010 at 07:28  
Anonymous Bernard said...

I think this is a very good idea.
I will do my bit hoping we will succeed in our project.
I like Little Town, a beautiful arranged classic song.Fingers crossed for the Christmascharts!

17 November 2010 at 15:06  

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