It's getting to be that time of year — which means, love it or hate it, you're about to hear "Wonderful Christmastime" by Paul McCartney about a dozen times.
It's the at-once beloved and detested modern Christmas hit, which McCartney released back in 1979. Here's the story behind "Wonderful Christmastime" and some facts to know about the song.
"Wonderful Christmastime" by Paul McCartney came out in 1979
"Wonderful Christmastime" is a McCartney solo track in the truest sense of the phrase: he wrote and recorded the song by himself in the summer of 1979, during sessions for what would become McCartney II.
At the time, he'd no longer been a Beatle for over a decade, and had been releasing work with Linda McCartney, Wings, and his debut solo album, McCartney. But the sound of "Wonderful Christmastime," and McCartney II, departed from anything the musician had released before. Both projects were heavily reliant on synthesizers and saw McCartney at his most experimental.
McCartney claims he wrote the lyrics in 10 minutes, while the instrumentation consists of home studio synthesizers and festive sound effects—which have led some to joke the song showcases McCartney "learning the buttons on his keyboard." Still, as a non-album single, the song was successful in the 1979 charts. But it grew in popularity over the years, impressively joining the canon of holiday music staples.
Facts about Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmas"
Here are six more facts about McCartney's unusual holiday favourite:
- It's been estimated McCartney earns $400,000 a year on the track's airplay
- A McCartney cover of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reggae" was the single's B-side
- Paul recorded the track in his home studio at Lower Gate Farm, in Sussex
- Some believe the lyrics have hidden meaning about a witches' Christmas
- In 2019, the single received Gold certification in the UK
- The single probably has the best cover of any holiday album
To this day, Beatles fans also debate on how "Wonderful Christmastime" matches up to John Lennon and Yoko Ono's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)," recorded in the early '70s. McCartney doesn't usually come out on top, but his synthpop holiday track is charming in its own right.
He also released the follow-up to McCartney II on Dec. 11, 2020!