It Doesn't Often Snow at Christmas

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 1997
Original album - Elton John's Christmas
Party (various artists)
Producer (original version) - Pet Shop Boys; (2009 version) - Marius De Vries, Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - Christmas (EP); Nightlife 2017 reissue Further Listening 1996-2000 bonus disc; Yes 2017 reissue Further Listening 2008-2010 bonus disc, Smash
Other releases - single/EP (UK #40)

Every year the Pet Shop Boys send a Christmas card to the members of their official fan club. For the 1997 holiday season, instead of a card they sent a gift: a CD featuring a brand-new, otherwise unavailable song. In "It Doesn't Often Snow at Christmas," Neil expresses his tremendous disillusionment over the commercialized spending spree that Christmas has become, symbolized by the fact that—at least in most of Britain—Christmas usually isn't marked by snow. An instrumental version of the song also appears on this "audio Christmas card."

This song remained a much sought-after PSB rarity—largely unavailable outside of unauthorized duplications and online auctions where it could fetch princely sums—until November 2005, when it made an appearance on the limited-edition charity CD Elton John's Christmas Party, a collection of seasonal favorites chosen by Sir Elton himself. But considering the "limited" nature of that release (distributed only through Starbucks and a very few other select outlets) it remained a comparatively obscure item in the Boys' catalog.

In mid-December 2009, the Pet Shop Boys released a new version of this song, co-produced with Marius de Vries, on their Christmas EP. This new, more heavily produced track, with even more "seasonal accoutrements" than the original, features orchestral and choir arrangements by de Vries and Matt Robertson. They've incorporated brief instrumental snippets of the yuletide standards "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" and "Once in Royal David's City." (The particular melodic segments used are quite similar in the two carols, but different enough that it's clear they're both being quoted musically.)



Officially released

Official but unreleased

List cross-references