A Look At Elton John’s Christmas Songs

Elton John Christmas Songs

Feature Photo: Tony Norkus / Shutterstock.com

A Look At Elton John’s Christmas Songs list looks at the multiple Christmas songs Elton John has released throughout his career. While Mariah Carey may be the Queen of Christmas with her number-one-selling single of all time, “All I Want For Christmas,” Elton John has indeed recorded some wonderful Christmas songs that his fans have celebrated over the past few decades. This list will include the original Christmas Songs that Elton John has composed and the multiple Christmas duets he has recorded in recent years with the trendy Harry Styles and the phenomenal and beautiful vocalist Joss Stone. And no, this list will not include 1983’s “Cold As Christmas” because that was not a Christmas song.

This list of Elton John Christmas songs has been compiled in chronological order.

Step Into Christmas

Up first on our Elton John’s Christmas songs list is his very popular original Christmas song entitled “Step Into Christmas.” This is the one that all Elton John fans will know. It is by far his most popular Christmas song, and for a long time his only Christmas recording in the studio except for the b-side. The song was originally released on November 23, 1973, as a stand-alone single. It did not appear on any album at the time. It would be later released as a bonus track on the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road CD on which that original album also was released in 1973. Of course, it would also appear on many Elton John compilations that would be released over the years. Yet in 1973, the only place you could find the song was either on the radio or a 45 rpm vinyl single. Oh the good old days

The song was composed by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. Elton John recorded the song in London with his legendary Elton John Band. That induced Nigel Olsson on drums, Dee Murray on bass, Ray Cooper on percussion and Davey Johnstone on guitar. The song was produced by Gus Dudgeon who put his own Phil Spector Christmas Ronettes-inspired sound on the recording.

This song was recorded when Elton John was on top of the world.  Only a month earlier the single “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” had hit number one in multiple countries around the World. The previous single “Saturday Nights Alright For Fighting,” was a huge hit during the previous summer. A few months later Elton John would hit number one on all the charts with “Bennie And The Jets.” Sandwiched between all of these mega-hits was “Step Into Christmas which did not do too bad on the charts either. The song hit number one on the US Billboard Christmas Singles charts. It was also a top 10 hit single in the United Kingdom.

Unless you were one of the millions of Elton John fans in the 1970s who purchased the “Step Into Christmas,” single, you probably have never heard this one. This is the long-forgotten Elton John Christmas song. The song was released as the b-side to “Step Into Christmas.” “Step Into Christmas,” was such a huge hit, radio pretty much ignored the b-side of the single as they did with most b-sides unless you were the Beatles.  This one has a funky groove that sounds like something off Tumbleweed Connection instead of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

When I first listened to this song, I wondered if John Lennon was in the background because it sounded like he was. I thought that for many years that John Lennon was on the recording. However when it was released on Rare Masters in the 1990s, the liner notes explained that they were going for a John Lennon type of thing, so of course, he wasn’t on the track. It was just the vibe they were going for with all the noise in the background. The song was recorded just for the b-side of the single “Step Into Christmas.”

Calling It Christmas

In 2005, Elton John released a Christmas album entitled Elton John’s Christmas Party. The album was originally issued as an exclusive release in Starbucks cafes. This was at a time when Starbucks used to sell CDs. The album was a compilation of Elton John’s favorite Christmas songs by bands and artists like U2, The Pretenders, Bruce Springsteen and many more. Elton John’s “Step Into Christmas,” opened the CD and then it was all original recordings of other artists until the cd’s final song. The closing track was a new Elton John Christmas song written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin called “Calling It Christmas.”

The song features Joss Stone’s stunning vocals complimented by Elton John’s deep tenor. It has a slow gospel-like feel that is just daunting. Long-time Elton John drummer Nigel Olsson and guitarists Davey Johnstone play on the track. Bob Birch played bass. The song also featured the Voice of Atlanta and Youth Ensemble of Atlanta choirs.

Merry Christmas

Even in 2021, more than fifty years since Elton John’s debut album was released, the man is still as entertaining as ever. Elton John was still writing and recording music while we were all hunkered down, binging Netflix shows during the initial COVID lockdown. One of the results of that writing was a collaboration with Ed Sheeran on this fabulous new Christmas song simply titled “Merry Christmas.” This is a really beautiful song. The song is once again driven by that famous Phil Spector drum beat and then fueled by Elton John’s iconic eighth-note piano playing. Ed Sheeran gets the first verse and then is met by Elton’s legendary voice.

“Merry Christmas” is such a beautiful song that we didn’t want to include the remix of the song that Ladbaby did called “Sausage Rolls for Everyone.” But since it did feature Elton John we added it below. It is funny though and it was done for charity.

Good Grief

Updated December 24, 2023

A Look At Elton John’s Christmas Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022

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