Paul Kelly’s Christmas Train was a double album released in November this year and it is a rare gift, which brings together many fine local artists who contributed re-invented seasonal classics and several new songs. Kelly enlists his own close kin to perform on the album, daughters Maddie and Memphis sing harmonies on an adaptation of John Donne’s poem Nativity, his sister Mary-Jo arranged the carol-style vocals for Little Drummer Boy, and his nephew Dan played banjo on a version of the 19th century composition Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing. Below Paul, then-wife Kaarin, Maddie and Memphis.
Christmas is a valentine to Kelly’s family, his parents, his former partners, and his children, and it is a song bristling with all the mod-rock energy and style of a track that sounds like it could have been on the Beatles Revolver album, along with Taxman and Rain. Written by local brothers Wes and Chris Harrington of the Melbourne band The Large Number Twelves, and sung by Kelly, the Harringtons, with assistance from Billy Miller (ex-Ferrets) on the high harmonies, it is propelled by a Motown-inspired bassline, choppy, pungent guitars, and an infectious R&B dance beat, and its lyrics are unashamedly sentimental and heartfelt “ Mother your children have grown far away/ You talk to them on the phone once a week/ I wanna go back to the people I love/ I wanna go back…” Below Advent Calendars.
Kelly has commented on the big part that Christmas played in his childhood, growing up in a large Catholic family in Adelaide- “We had Advent, the month- long build-up to Christmas. There was a small crib in one of the fireplaces with a pile of straw beside it. Every time you did something good or denied yourself something you would secretly put straw in the crib so it would be filled by Christmas, when a statuette of the baby Jesus would miraculously appear in the crib. The statues of the Three Wise Men started a long way off in another part of the house, secretly moving every night along mantelpieces so they would arrive at the crib for the Epiphany on January 6. That was all part of Christmas for us. It was fun and mysterious and magical.” Below Paul’s son Declan.
The accompanying music video, compiled by Paul’s partner Sian Darling and features clips sent in from fans, including some cameos from Brian Nankervis with his family and Gretta Ray. It is a typically down-to-earth journey through Kelly’s family album of Super 8 footage of beach holidays, grainy shots of past summers, former partners Hilary Brown and Kaarin Fairfax, and their children Declan, Memphis and Madelaine, and Paul’s late mother Josephine. Present-day footage is also merged with cherished memories of family, as a grizzled, unshaven Paul re-creates his “running-man- cross-country” journey last seen in the 2012 video for Love Is The Law, which was filmed around the Melbourne suburb of Kensington, while for Christmas Paul takes a turn around seaside St. Kilda, where he lives.