Kermit the Frog – One More Sleep ’til Christmas
I bloody love Christmas, and for all the usual reasons – great food, you get stuff, you give stuff, telly – but also because nothing can ever really take the shine off. I’ve been inconsolable on any number of Christmas Days, for one stupid reason or another: a stapler shaped like a dog’s head that broke the second I tried to use it when I was five (why I wanted a stapler at all at that age is a mystery – it’s not like I had a lot of papers to organise). At eight, when the tape deck I had begged for and duly received which subsequently revealed that my recorded voice was apparently based on John Inman’s in Are You Being Served? – that one a lasting trauma which has prevented me from listening back to my radio appearances this year lest I sound awful as my memory tells me I do. Add in frequent blazing rows, illness and, on several occasions, having to work at directory enquiries on the day itself – nothing brings home the traumatic potential of the season quite like having someone call to ask for help because their kitten isn’t breathing* – and you’d think Christmas might be too stuffed full of bad memories to risk looking forward to.
But no. It’s absolutely impervious to misery, and to a large degree I have pop to thank for it. I like almost all Christmas songs, in the same way I like almost all varieties of Quality Street. Some thrill me more than others – so the Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl is obviously the big purple one, while The Darkness is the coconut one – but invariably I’ll gorge myself on the whole lot during December. But if for some reason I’m struggling to get into the spirit of things, there’s one tune that never, ever fails: One More Sleep ’til Christmas from The Muppet Christmas Carol.
I was twenty when the film came out, but it feels like this song has been in my life since I was a small boy. I think sometimes the best pop sort of inserts itself back along your timeline, repackaging your memories in more pleasing form. It helps that I was always a huge fan of the Muppets – my most prized possession when I was little was a set of badges I’d sent away for from the Look-In magazine (and they are once again since the boyfriend found a complete set on eBay, bless him). My diary from May 1990 even recounts the passing of Jim Henson and how sad I was, and – with all the self-centredness of a teenager – how old it made me feel.
One More Sleep ’til Christmas was the first time I’d heard Kermit the Frog with his ‘new’ voice – but any doubts I had about that evaporated with the perfectly flattened pronunciation of ‘keep’ in the line “The promise of excitement / Is one the night will keep / After all, there’s only one more sleep till Christmas”. It’s funny and sad and slightly vexed sounding at the same time – perfect Kermit, basically, and utterly right for his portrayal of Bob Cratchit, in my opinion the best onscreen Bob ever (and his nephew Robin is the only Tiny Tim on film whose stick I haven’t wanted to kick away). Of course the song itself was instantly wonderful, packed with the kind of innocent anticipation, sweetness and goodwill you can only ever get away with at this time of year. It’s an ‘off’ switch for my standard grumpy setting, and it makes me feel like I’m an unbearably excited five year old again, with stapler-gate yet to come.
One More Sleep ’til Christmas wasn’t released as a single at the time – and I faintly recall it feeling like the Muppets were on their uppers a bit, as the film wasn’t exactly a giant hit. But the subsequent twenty three years have of course revealed it as a total classic, and something tells me that some day, this song will take its rightful place at the top of the Christmas chart. I can’t wait.
*Oh, and the kitten was fine. I got the caller to hold up a mirror to the kitten’s mouth to see if it misted up. It did. Christmas was saved!
Entered chart: was not released
Who could sing this today and have a hit? I’m a bit bemused as to why former Kermit duet partner Kylie Minogue didn’t put this on her Christmas album, though I’m already confused enough as to what the single is. Is it Only You? Is it 100 Degrees? Is it Every Day’s Like Christmas?