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By Caroline Miller

For many, holiday music is one of the most popular ways to get into the spirit of the season. From listening to your favorite holiday classic play on the radio to the music playing throughout the shops as you shop for everyone on your list, it would be hard to imagine the music not being present during this time of year, including Elton’s own music. While Elton has said that he will not make a Christmas album, he has made his own contributions to holiday music by releasing singles and performing holiday classics live. With that being said, and as the season continues, what could be a more fitting way to get into the spirit, than with a compilation of these selections from Elton, to add to your holiday playlist?

Starting off with what is arguably one of his most popular holiday songs, is “Step Into Christmas.” Released in 1973, the beloved single just celebrated its 50th anniversary, in November. Elton recently discussed this milestone on iHeart Radio’s 4th Annual Holiday Special, where he said he couldn’t believe the anniversary, himself. Elton also discussed the making of the song and showed his appreciation for listeners who continue to enjoy the song, each holiday season. The single was also performed live in the same year, on The Gilbert O’Sullivan Show. A fun, upbeat song with an accompanying music video featuring Elton and the band having the best time, this has to be one of my personal favorites to listen to, during this time of year.

To go along with “Step Into Christmas,” is its B-side, “Ho! Ho! Ho! (Who’d Be a Turkey at Christmas).” As you may guess by the song’s title, this track tells the story of a certain holiday figure known for dressing primarily in red, arriving at a house on the busiest night of the year. To quote one of the lyrics, in describing the song myself, “I love the vocal talent!”

All Quiet on the Western Front” is another track within Elton’s holiday catalogue. At first, I did not associate it as a Christmas song, until my good friend and fellow Elton fan, Jeanie Kincer, explained the song’s historical context to me, saying how it is a reference to World War I and the story of the British and German troops involved, particularly during the time in which the holidays approached. The historical context makes the song both another track for the holiday playlist, as well as an interesting story behind a song.

Going forward some years, is Elton’s 2004 duet, “Calling It Christmas” with singer, Joss Stone. The track tells through its lyrics, the story of the Nativity and also gives the listeners encouragement, as it describes, “spreading joy to the world when Christmas is here.” Also in the 2000s, is a 2008 track by the group, The Killers, entitled, “Joseph, Better You Than Me” which features Elton. The track follows a similar theme as “Calling it Christmas” and from an interesting perspective, that I had not thought about myself, prior to listening to the song.

In even more recent years, is Elton’s 2019 holiday track featuring Ed Sheeran, entitled, “Merry Christmas.” The song’s lyrics describe one of the most special parts of the holidays, of spending the season with those you love. The song has been successful since its release, as it continues to enter into the charts, during the holiday season.

Not only has Elton contributed to the holiday music scene through songs such as those that we have seen so far, but he has also performed holiday classics live, such as “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “White Christmas” and “Jingle Bells.”

In a 1973 performance at the Hammersmith Odeon, Elton decided to perform his own rendition of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.” The rendition lasts just over a minute long, and consists of Elton showcasing his skills in instrumentals, as the enthusiastic clapping of the audience can be heard in the background. In case you wanted to book Elton for your Christmas party that year, it seemed as though it could have been a possibility! To close out the song, a cheeky Elton remarked to the audience, “I’m available for weddings, Christmas parties, everything! 10 pounds an hour!”

A year later, in 1974 and also at the Hammersmith Odeon, was when Elton performed his own version of “White Christmas.” Dressed in his infamous white-feather outfit and seated at a glittery piano, the performance was already in full Elton mode, before it even began. When Elton and the band performed an upbeat rendition, giving it a bit of a rock and roll feel, the song became even more Elton-esque. Elton would also collaborate with Rosie O’Donnell on another rendition of the song, for her 1999 album, entitled, “A Rosie Christmas.” Both a duet and a solo version, with just Elton, were created and are available to listen to, on YouTube. Elton being involved with the song may have something to do with it, but I personally found myself enjoying each of these renditions of his the most, out of those that I have heard, of this beloved track.

As many fans are familiar, Elton is known for improvising at the piano, which is just what he did, when he decided to perform a rendition of “Jingle Bells” live at the MEO Arena in Lisbon, Portugal, in December of 2016, during the piano intro to “Rocket Man.” Elton began his 8-minute performance with a soft instrumental, before playing the recognizable intro and then proceeding to move into his take on the classic. As he moved the pace upwards throughout the song, I must say that it is absolutely fascinating, time and time again, to both watch and listen to Elton improvise, with this performance being a spectacular display of his talent.

Elton fans may also know him for his ability to transform songs into a different style, which was that of the pub piano style. I can recall an instance of Elton transforming “Your Song” into a pub song, and this ability proved to succeed with holiday songs. In 1973, a pub medley of Elton performing a number of holiday songs was played for a John Peel session on BBC Radio. If this conjures up an intriguing idea of what these songs can sound like, footage of the medley is available to listen to on YouTube.

“If we can help to entertain you, oh, we will find the ways,” says the lyric from “Step Into Christmas.” I would say that once again, Elton has certainly found the ways to entertain us, in a variety of genres throughout the years, and holiday music is without a doubt, one of them. A special thanks goes out to my good friend and fellow Elton fan, Jeanie Kincer, in assisting me with both some of the research, as well as coming up with suggestions for some of the songs listed here, in order to help add a bit of Elton to anyone’s holiday playlist, this season!

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