It’s a timeless classic. One of those songs that has woven itself into the fabric of our culture. The mere mention of the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” sends the melody directly to our brain like the cuddliest of earworms.
Like eating a bowl of porridge whilst wearing a massive woolly jumper it makes us feel snug and warm inside. A bit like “Merry Christmas Everyone” by Slade, or “Smack My Bitch Up” by The Prodigy.
You’d be surprised if I told you it’s not actually a Christmas song though, wouldn’t you?
What not many people know is that Andy Williams was a massive pro cycling fan. And while he enjoyed a Grand Tour as much as the next 60’s easy listening icon, what he really lived for was the Spring Classics.
It really is “the most wonderful time of the year” he would say, in the run-up to Omloop Het Volk (as it was known back then) and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
“It’s the sense of excitement, and the way that it brings families and friends together to spend some quality time over a litre of recklessly strong beer and a cheap hot-dog.”
But, alas, his record company felt that the rigours of a northern European cycling season would not shift many units among the easy listening crowd, and so the original version of the song was bastardised; by shoe-horning in a few cheap Christmas references they got their “hit” record.
Williams, though, always sang it not with thoughts of chestnuts roasting on open fires, but as a kind of meditation on the Plankaerts and de Vlaemincks and their ability to crush a massive gear over cobbles and bergs.
And for many, it still is the most wonderful time of the year.Embed from Getty Images
Think back to 2017: we had Philippe Gilbert’s marvellous escape at the Tour of Flanders; Daniel Oss’s magnificent hair gracing Paris-Roubaix; Greg van Avermaet’s café legs at Amstel Gold…I could go on.
Andy Williams, unfortunately, is no longer with us.
If he were, he would no doubt be firming up his Eurosport subscription as we speak and settling in for the Spring.
(Top Image: franzconde via Flickr)