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We All Stand Together – Christmas song against all odds

One of the songs that invariably got a lot of airplay at Christmas, is Paul McCartney's We All Stand Together. Curiously, because the song has nothing to do with Christmas. The lyrics has no single reference to it, and the music doesn’t have the usual sounds that are characteristic of Christmas songs. The only connection, besides maybe the title and the theme ‘solidarity’, is the release date of the single, which was December. And even that wasn’t the intention.


We All Stand Together is nothing more than ‘just’ a nursery rhyme, coming from a cartoon about the character Rupert Bear. And releasing a nursery rhyme as a single, isn’t a cool thing to do for a rock-artist. McCartney experienced this already in 1972 as he delivers in a recalcitrant mood ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’, a song written for his three year old daughter. This earned him the scorn of the international music press, and that won’t happen to him a second time. But things turned out different.


The cartoon of Rupert Bear is screened in cinemas as a short movie which precedes McCartney's eighties movie ‘Give My Regards To Broad Street’. This film can be considered as one of the worst in the entire history of film. But the cartoon does catching on, especially that one song stands out. And so ‘We All Stand Together’ got unsolicited increasing airplay on the UK and US radio stations. This unexpected attention eventually leads to the release as a single, at the end of 1984. The accompanying video clip of the singing frogs provides an international megahit. Only the Christmas singles by Wham! and Band Aid keeps the song away from the top of the charts.


Video We All Stand Together: 



Thus Paul McCartney is one of the few pop artists who has had success with a self-written children's song, although, as a Christmas hit. For many people, We All Stand Together symbol for alleged diminished capabilities of McCartney as a composer, since the breakup of The Beatles. And yet, thirty years later, the composition still stands strong. And personally, I really love the creativity: all the croaking frogs and different voices, except for the children's choir, are sung by McCartney himself.

There are not many artists who inadvertently scored a Christmas hit. But it happened McCartney even twice. Because also the song ‘Once Upon A Long Ago’ got a lot of airplay these days, at least in Europe. And also in this case it’s not a Christmas song. What it is about, for me it is totally unclear. And if you believe the lyrics, even McCartney himself doesn’t know: “Tell me darling, what does it mean?”, he sings. That it has become a kind of Christmas hit, is explainable. That has everything to do with the accompanying video clip.

Video: Once Upon A Long Ago



In the video, Paul and his band are playing on a high, windswept rock. Stylishly filmed in black and white, with touches of color here and there to emphasize the playfulness of the song. And then there suddenly appears out of nowhere a cartoon of children who get a puppy as a Christmas gift. A bizarre contrast with the rest of the clip.
The consequence is that around the Christmas holidays we can hear McCartney three times on a regular base. Three times yes, because of course he also has written a real Christmas carol.



Video: Wonderful Christmas Time


André Homan

André Homan is a Dutch writer and journalist.

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