Happy Xmas (Eric Clapton album)

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Happy Xmas
Happy Xmas EC.jpg
Studio album by
Released12 October 2018
Recorded2017-18
GenreChristmas music, blues, rock
Length60:45
LabelBrushbranch/Surfdog, EPC Enterprises; Polydor Records (Europe)
ProducerEric Clapton, Simon Climie
Eric Clapton chronology
Live in San Diego
(2016)
Happy Xmas
(2018)

Happy Xmas is the first Christmas album by Eric Clapton, his twenty-first solo studio album, released on 12 October 2018.[1] It includes 13 covers of Christmas-themed songs (15 on the European re-release), both well-known and relatively obscure ones, arranged in a predominantly blues style, and one new composition by Clapton and producer Simon Climie.

Track listing[edit]

No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."White Christmas"Irving Berlin (Arranged by Eric Clapton and Simon Climie) [2]2:58
2."Away in a Manger (Once in Royal David's City)"Traditional, William J. Kirkpatrick4:44
3."For Love on Christmas Day" (new song)Eric Clapton, Simon Climie, Dennis Morgan3:36
4."Everyday Will Be Like a Holiday"William Bell, Booker T. Jones3:38
5."Christmas Tears"R. C. Wilson, Sonny Thompson4:22
6."Home for the Holidays"Anthony Hamilton, Kelvin Wooten4:00
7."Jingle Bells (In Memory of Avicii)"James Lord Pierpont (arr. Clapton, Climie, Salif Keita, Manfila Kante)5:58
8."Christmas in My Hometown"Sonny James2:51
9."It's Christmas"Hamilton, Wooten, Brandon Davis4:43
10."Sentimental Moments"Friedrich Holländer, Ralph Freed4:06
11."Lonesome Christmas"Lloyd Glenn, Lowell Fulson3:51
12."Silent Night"Franz Xaver Gruber, Joseph Mohr, John Freeman Young (arr. Clapton, Climie, Walt Richmond)4:02
13."Merry Christmas Baby"Lou Baxter, Johnny Moore4:11
14."Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"Ralph Blane, Hugh Martin3:31
15."A Little Bit of Christmas Love" (bonus track)Rosco Gordon2:44
16."You Always Hurt the One You Love" (bonus track)Allan Roberts, Doris Fisher3:58

Conception[edit]

During the 23-minute television special A Clapton Christmas, which includes excerpts from a longer interview with producer/musician Simon Climie, Clapton says that the original inspiration for the album came from his wife Melia about three years before the album was produced. She had been listening to the Christmas-themed playlists which her husband created every year on his mobile phone for the end-of-year holiday season; one day, she left him a message on his phone: "Why don't you do a Christmas album?" Clapton was initially reluctant, as many of his favourite artists had done likewise before him, but he was convinced after he started working with pianist and keyboard player Walt Richmond (from The Tractors), who came up with unconventional harmonizations and arrangements for most of the tracks.[3]

"For Love on Christmas Day" was written in early 2018 as "Living in a Dream World", when Clapton completed a fragmentary tune by Simon Climie and wrote lyrics to it.[4] At the time, the album was supposed to be a regular studio album rather than a Christmas one. Upon deciding to make it such, Clapton changed two lines of lyrics in the last verse - the only ones which actually include the word "Christmas".

"Home for the Holidays" and "It's Christmas" are taken from American soul singer Anthony Hamilton's 2014 holiday-themed album, also called Home for the Holidays. Clapton discovered his music on Spotify and called him "the best soul singer on the planet".[5]

The song "Christmas in My Hometown", according to Clapton's comments on a flexi disc included with the deluxe edition of the album, was discovered by him on a Christmas compilation album, which he found by scouring the Internet while looking for unusual Christmas songs to cover; in this case, it was a country album, which included Gene Autry among its featured artists. The original version of this song, recorded by its writer Sonny James in 1954, sounded to Clapton like a pub song and reminded him of a scene he saw on a TV documentary, depicting a group of Romani people singing and having fun in a pub, so he arranged it in that style.[6]

Artwork[edit]

The artwork for the album, consisting of cartoonish, childlike drawings, was created by Clapton himself, who drafted all of it very quickly on some sheets of paper he found in his hotel. The front cover features a Santa character who looks vaguely like Clapton, while the inner spread includes a Santa sleigh pulled by reindeer under a four-pointed Christmas star, as well as a Christmas tree. In his interview with Clime, Clapton jokes that the artwork took him "months and months" of failed attempts, before revealing the truth. He also states that he was inspired by Bob Dylan, who, as an accomplished painter, came up with his own artwork for several of his albums.[7] The "Happy Xmas"/"E.C." lettering on the front cover, as well as the whole of the tracklist on the back, are also in Clapton’s own handwriting.

Personnel[edit]

Production[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2018) Peak
position
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[9] 45
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[10] 64
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[11] 114
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[12] 97
Czech Albums (ČNS IFPI)[13] 23
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[14] 111
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[15] 37
Italian Albums (FIMI)[16] 75
Scottish Albums (OCC)[17] 47
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[18] 34
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[19] 73
UK Albums (OCC)[20] 97
US Billboard 200[21] 84
US Top Holiday Albums (Billboard)[22] 1

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Eric Clapton Celebrates Christmas With First Full-Length Holiday Album: Exclusive". Billboard. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  2. ^ All writing and arrangement credits taken from the liner notes in the CD booklet.
  3. ^ A Clapton Christmas on YouTube.
  4. ^ A Clapton Christmas, as above.
  5. ^ A Clapton Christmas, as above.
  6. ^ "Eric Clapton Commentary", Happy Xmas Deluxe Edition flexi disc.
  7. ^ "Eric Clapton Interview", Happy Xmas Deluxe Edition USB key.
  8. ^ Climie is shown playing acoustic rhythm guitar in two performance videos he recorded with Clapton; the latter, in his interview, also states that Climie played acoustic guitar on the album.
  9. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Eric Clapton – Happy Xmas" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  10. ^ "Ultratop.be – Eric Clapton – Happy Xmas" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  11. ^ "Ultratop.be – Eric Clapton – Happy Xmas" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  12. ^ "Eric Clapton Chart History (Canadian Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  13. ^ "Czech Albums – Top 100". ČNS IFPI. Note: On the chart page, select 201842 on the field besides the word "Zobrazit", and then click over the word to retrieve the correct chart data. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  14. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Eric Clapton – Happy Xmas" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  15. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Eric Clapton – Happy Xmas" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  16. ^ "Album – Classifica settimanale WK 42 (dal 2018-10-12 al 2018-10-18)" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  17. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  18. ^ "Top 100 Albumes – Semana 42: del 12.10.2018 al 18.10.2018" (in Spanish). Productores de Música de España. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  19. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Eric Clapton – Happy Xmas". Hung Medien. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  20. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  21. ^ "Eric Clapton Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  22. ^ "Eric Clapton Chart History (Holiday Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved 23 October 2018.