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I Don't Intend to Spend Christmas Without You - Margot Guryan

Two nights ago I spent a few hours in a pub singing Christmas carols and songs. There were about seventy people there for the pre-arranged sing-song, well over fifty of whom were women. It occurred to me how things had changed in the last forty years or so, when a similar gathering would have the numbers skewed similarly but with the majority being men instead of women. Also, pub-going women in the 1970's were much less likely to be unaccompanied by male partners, such was the male dominated culture and consequent atmosphere of pubs.

The songs were led by a young woman who stood on a platform (a table was it?) at one end of the main barroom and sang and conducted us all with gusto. The evening ended with a supremely rollicking rendering of the Pogues' "Fairytale of New York". While there I bumped into friends Rachel and Ed who commended two of his Christmas favourites to Uncle Stylus, and "I Don't Intend to Spend Christmas Without You" by Margot Guryan was one of them.

I'd never heard of Margot Guryan, but her tale is an interesting one: a musical protégé born of musician parents, she studied jazz piano at university then switched to composition. Signed up as a songwriter for Atlantic Records by the legendary Jerry Wexler, she wrote a few hits, most notably "Sunday Morning" for Spanky and Our Gang in 1967. The following year she recorded an album for Bell Records, before retiring from music, saying she had no wish to wind up being "owned" by the music industry. Years later, beginning in 2001, albums of her sixties demos began to be released, restoring her reputation as a sensitive singer and writer of catchy, yet charming, songs.

"I Don't Intend to Spend Christmas Without You" was commissioned for French singer "Claudine Longet" the then wife of singer Andy Williams. One can imagine Longet, who's version of the song is decidedly inferior to Guryan's demo, heaving a sigh of relief that the public would never hear it.

But we can, now, and what a treat it is. As light and yummy as a mouthful of aerated, bubbly milk chocolate on Christmas morning.


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