Here’s something a little different from our Advent Calendar on the 7th. Enjoy!
Chris de Burgh’s ‘A Spaceman Came Travelling’, first released as a single in 1976, is certainly a cut above the vast majority of pieces that grace the classic Christmas pop song canon. Its lyrics provide food for thought, and it twinkles its way towards an initially very beautiful and understated melody. I also like the song, however, because its weakest moment reminds me of the brilliance of Wagner.
We are told that ‘suddenly the sweetest music filled the air’ before having this played to us. The trouble is that the moderately moving, rather overblown and slightly cheesy chorus that follows falls well short of what was described! Of course, any composer who promises such a superlative could only be setting themselves up for a fall – unless they happen to be Wagner.
He writes into Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg the fact that Walther is going to sing to the people of Nürnberg, and by extension us, the most beguiling song imaginable, and then produces one that, I believe, lives up to the promise. Wagner’s ability to deliver such beautiful music ‘on demand’ may actually be one of his more overlooked talents, but it is one that ‘A Spaceman Came Travelling’, a hugely enjoyable song in its own right, brings into sharp focus.