I Believe In Father Christmas

Saturday, 24 December, 2016

As 2016 entered its final stretch, the Grim Reaper, who had begun with David Bowie on 10 January, called to the home of Greg Lake on 7 December. The English guitarist, singer and songwriter gained early fame as a founding member of the progressive rock bands King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, but he’s anchored in popular memory with the song that launched his solo career in 1975: “I Believe in Father Christmas”. It was interpreted as a protest against the commercialisation of Christmas, but Lake countered that the lyrics are about a loss of innocence and childhood belief:

“They sold me a dream of Christmas
They sold me a silent night
And they told me a fairy story
‘Till I believed in the Israelite
And I believed in Father Christmas
And I looked to the sky with excited eyes
‘Till I woke with a yawn in the first light of dawn
And I saw him and through his disguise.”

Keith Emerson, who killed himself in March, loved classical music, and he suggested adding an instrumental riff between verses. Thus the “Troika” portion of Sergei Prokofiev’s Lieutenant Kijé Suite was included. The video, by the way, was partly shot in the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.

“I wish you a hopeful Christmas
I wish you a brave New Year
All anguish, pain and sadness
Leave your heart and let your road be clear.”

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