Behind The Song Lyrics: “Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Released in November of 1979 after the McCartney-formed group Wings unveiled its final album, Back to the Egg, this now-classic Christmas song is a lively, uplifting, if not totally goofy track that most people know deep in their Christmas bones.

The jaunty song was McCartney’s first solo single since the 1971 track “Eat at Home.” And to date, McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” has charted in the Top 10 in countries like the United Kingdom (where it peaked at No. 6), Austria, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, and the Netherlands. And in the Top 20 in Canada, Slovakia, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Originally, it was recorded during the sessions for the legendary artist’s second solo album, McCartney II, which he released in 1980. And while critics didn’t like the tune then (and probably still don’t now), many music (and McCartney) fans have adored it and made it part of their annual rotation.

(And on a personal note, in my hometown of Seattle, the local Christmas Station, Warm 106.9, plays it almost hourly, which my wife and I love hearing on road trips.)

The tune, which was later added to the 1993 CD reissue of Back to the Egg and on later deluxe album editions (including a longer, unedited version on the 2011 Deluxe Edition reissue of McCartney II), is composed largely with synthesizer sound effects and McCartney repeating the chorus frequently. With plenty of jingle bells.

“Wonderful Christmastime” was written in B-major and recorded entirely by McCartney whilst working on McCartney II, his second solo LP. And though the members of Wings are not on the recording, they do appear in the accompanying music video, which you can see above.

The video was filmed at the Fountain Inn in Ashurst, West Sussex, and also features footage filmed at the Hippodrome Theater in Eastbourne, where the former Mop Top rehearsed his 1979 U.K. tour. Wings would go on to perform “Wonderful Christmastime” during their 1979 tour of the region.

According to Forbes magazine, as of 2010, it was estimated that McCartney makes $400,000 a year from the track, which puts the total earnings at over $15 million and now, likely over $20 million for the now 79-year-old former Beatle.

The song itself is goofy and almost space-aged. With rhythmic synth sounds that sound almost like Star Wars lasers as much as melodic attempts. To begin the song, as sleigh bells jingle, McCartney sings:

The moon is right
The spirits up
We’re here tonight
And that’s enough

Then the chorus begins and if you haven’t heard it before it will stay in your brain forever and ever:

Simply havin’ a wonderful Christmastime
Simply havin’ a wonderful Christmastime

The master of melody then sings about a party, a choir of children, word spreading through town, and that right ol’ moon again. Really, though, every lyric is an excuse to get back to the candy-sticky chorus again.

It’s a song that creates a feeling, a vibe. Something to have on during the family gathering or while cooking. Either way, it’s going to be okay, of course.

Why?

Because we’re simp-ly hav-in’ a wonder-ful Christmastime!

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