By using Elbow’s cover of ‘Golden Slumbers’ in their annual saccharine injected Christmas ad, the advertising team at John Lewis have ensured that, unless you happen to be one of the more obscure species of freshwater crustacean, you are unlikely to reach Boxing Day without having heard this song. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
On the one hand, ‘Golden Slumbers’ is perfectly innocuous. It’s an understated, minimalist cover of the classic Beatles track, infused with Elbow’s distinctive brand of wistfulness and feeling. Guy Garvey’s soaring, coarse vocals are simultaneously powerful and gentle, and are surrounded by a soothing string arrangement. A restrained percussion section supports the melody, easing in and out with the ebb and flow of Garvey’s voice. The slow, nocturnal tempo is a way to end the greatest hits album on which it is released; an unexpected extra nugget for a nostalgic listener. However, once it is used as the soundtrack to an overtly sentimental plea to buy things, it loses its charm. This isn’t the fault of the song itself, but it is a shame as it deserves to be enjoyed on its own, and not be synonymous with a monster under the bed.
Image Credit: Charles LeBlanc, Flickr