Christmas time is for celebration and contemplation, and it’s the latter we will be focusing on here. I’m sure somebody akin to Nelson Mandela once said something along the lines of “the less we say, the more we mean”, and if nobody has coined that phrase before, then I’m claiming it as my own.
Paul McCartney clearly had the same idea with Mull Of Kintyre. The Christmas number one for 1977, the song was about, well, it’s complicated, let’s see what Macca had to say to describe the track:
“I certainly loved Scotland enough, so I came up with a song about where we were living; an area called Mull of Kintyre. It was a love song really, about how I enjoyed being there and imagining I was travelling away and wanting to get back there”
Oh, actually quite straightforward then, it’s about an area in Scotland called Mull of Kintyre, which looks like this:
While the place was famous for McCartney’s song, it was also notorious for something else. The Mull of Kintyre test was a rule made by the British Board of Film Classification to decide whether a penis allowed to be seen on screen.
It was simple really – The BBFC would only allow male genitalia to be shown if the member in question was completely flaccid. To gauge whether a penis was sufficiently soft, the board used a map of Kintyre. If the penis was erect at a higher angle than Kintyre was on the map, then it would not be allowed to be used on film.
Kintyre of course is in red, not the white stuff at the top. While this test was useful for censorship in films, it also helped out Paul McCartney. When the rule came into fruition in 1992, nobody could ever accurately say that Macca was the biggest cock in Kintyre.
Look, it’s an okay song. Sentimental, saccharine and all that, it’s just a song about a little place in Scotland. All throughout the song, and the video the overwhelming feeling is one of pleasantness, unremarkable good old pleasantness.
Then just as the four minute mark approaches, this happens:
Loads of people hanging around in unison can work well, or badly. It can evoke feelings of togetherness and community, or it can be a bit more Wicker Man. Luckily for Kintyre, this section of the video is fantastic, and really sums up the Christmas spirit. I mentioned in the first paragraph about both celebration and contemplation, and to me this clip from the video is a tremendous example of that.
I’m not sure whether it’s because fire signifies warmth, guitars a sing-song, and night-time romance, but when rewatching the video in anticipation for writing this, it just made me feel slightly emotional, not quite on a par with the end of Jingle All The Way, but certainly on an even level to the end of the first Santa Clause film.
This was officially a song by Wings, the band The Beatles could have been.
The song to this day is the best selling non charity single in the history of the UK music charts, which is actually quite remarkable considering its relative lack of airplay in these modern times. McCartney very rarely plays the song live, but makes occasional exceptions, mostly when he can find more than one person who can actually play the bagpipes to join him on stage.
One such example is this terrific performance of the song in Vancouver, complete with a proper police pipe band. Absolutely magical.
I’m also a big fan of this version, as country legend Glen Campbell, dressed like he’s about to head to the gym played bagpipes on the song.
Ultimately, would yuletide be without not only the aforementioned celebration and contemplation, but also without penises? There is a reason why September is one of the most popular months for the birth of babies in this country, and that’s because of office parties, people heading to their hometowns and finally hooking up with someone they fancied in their youth, and couples enjoying their twice yearly bedroom session.
What else can give you all of those festive experiences? Some might give you celebration, contemplation is hidden in many Christmas songs, The Darkness didn’t let the bells end, but ultimately, if you want the ultimate trio of Christmas, you’re heading up to the Mull of Kintyre.
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