Step Into Christmas
By: Caroline Miller
The holiday season is just around the corner, and if anyone is ready to get into the spirit, it’s Elton himself. Elton joined iHeart Radio’s 4th Annual Holiday Special which was hosted by Mario Lopez and featured a number of additional musicians throughout the show. Elton took the time to have a holiday chat to discuss getting into the holiday spirit, “Step Into Christmas” celebrating its 50th anniversary, as well as what the holidays mean to him and his family.
“I’m beginning to get into the Christmas spirit. It’s creeping nearer and nearer,” said Elton, on getting into the holiday spirit.
Elton’s Christmas classic, “Step Into Christmas”, which was released in 1973, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. When asked if he could believe the milestone anniversary himself, Elton said:
“No, I can’t actually. I remember when we made the record very clearly, but it doesn’t seem like 50 years ago. Time just travels so quickly. But it still sounds really good. We tried to base our sound on this Phil Spector Christmas record because that’s the greatest Christmas album ever made. And so, we had a great time and it doesn’t seem to date, to me, which is great because a lot of records do date. But this one doesn’t.”
When asked about the idea for the song, Elton described how he and Bernie simply wanted to write a Christmas record, and also described the very quick process to which the song came about:
“I think Bernie and I just said, ‘We’d like to write a Christmas record.’ But a really happy one and an up-tempo one, and so Bernie wrote the lyrics very quickly, we booked the studio. We did everything so quickly in those days, made albums, toured, and we did it more or less on the spur of the moment, and I like things like that. I think when you do things that come quickly and you say, ‘Right, let’s do it,’ it worked and so we didn’t have time to think about it. We just wrote the song and went into the studio and did it.”
Elton further emphasized his quick writing process, when asked if it was true that “Step Into Christmas” was recorded in one day:
“Absolutely, real quick. You have to remember I put out 3 albums a year, sometimes, and we did them in ten days, sometimes a week. We had budgets to stick to, we were on fire, we had a lot of adrenaline, we were on a roll, we were so happy. So it wasn’t hard and you know, in those days, there was nothing to distract us. No social media, nothing like that. We just concentrated on our music and the fact that we were being successful made us so happy, and we had so much energy.”
When asked if he had any idea that “Step Into Christmas” would have the power that it does, as its milestone anniversary approaches, Elton described the power of Christmas songs each year, and expressed his gratitude for the fans who continue to love and listen to his holiday classic:
“Christmas records stay in people’s minds. Look at “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee, or “Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Helms, or Bing Crosby, “White Christmas.” Christmas is a family time. It’s a time of great joy to most people, and so they get very nostalgic and they like to hear the songs that made them feel Christmasy in their youth and I think that’s why every year you get Mariah Carey, #1 in the charts. People love Christmas records, more so every year and it’s increased every year, the sales and the streams of Christmas records, not only singles but albums, as well. So I will never do a Christmas album, but a Christmas single is fine. I’ve been very lucky in my career. A lot of the old songs are still popular and that’s what you get from being a touring artist. But with “Step Into Christmas”, we never play it live because I’m never usually playing at Christmas time, so it’s a one-off. But no, when you write a song, you can never know how it’s gonna do, what the result will be, whether people will like it or not. It’s just luck, it’s happenstance, whatever happens to it happens to it. But we’ve been very fortunate and very grateful to people for their loyalty and love of what we’ve done so it makes me feel happy every year that people still like this song.”
Elton also described the meaning of the holidays to him and his family, describing how it is all about his two boys, Zachary and Elijah.
“I think since we’ve had the boys, it’s taken on a new meaning because children love Christmas and we try and spend our Christmas very, very, just the four of us with maybe one or two friends from overseas, and make it very private and very special, because it’s all about the boys, they get so excited. You know, just being a parent has made my life complete. So it’s really about them and then Zachary having his birthday on Christmas Day, we celebrate his birthday on the 24th, so he doesn’t get conned out over not having two days, and then soon after Christmas, it’s Elijah’s birthday. So it’s about them, and every year they write to Santa and ask for things. I don’t know how long they’re gonna believe in Santa, but I think they still do, so that’s great.”
“He was born a pauper to a pawn on a Christmas Day,” says the lyric from Elton’s song, “Levon,” which may give you a hint as to what Elton’s heartfelt answer was, when asked about a special Christmas memory:
“Well, I think the best Christmas memory was at 3 o’clock in the morning when Zachary was born, 13 years ago it will be this year. In Los Angeles, in an empty hospital, because nobody wants to have a Christmas baby. But he was early and we spent our Christmas morning with him, and that was the greatest Christmas gift I could have ever had.”
Elton closed out his segment by wishing his best and thanking everyone listening. With that being said, I would say the time has officially arrived to “Step Into Christmas,” with Elton! As Elton himself might say, “Step into Christmas with me!”