While the “A” side is a great tune that was Tull’s biggest American single charting at #11. It also unusual since it is in 5/4 time – shades of Dave Brubeck. “Living in the Past” was released four times (1969, 1972, 1975, & 1985) – each with a different flip side. The 1972 version had “Christmas Song,” which was perfect timing due to its late release in the year.
In addition to flute, Ian Anderson is also playing mandolin on this cut. It does cut – as it chides people for not having the real spirit of Christmas especially during this time of year.
Once in royal David's city –
Stood a lonely cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her baby.
You'd do well to remember the things he later said.
When you're stuffing yourselves at the Christmas parties,
You'll laugh when I tell you,
To take a running jump.
You're missing the point I'm sure does not need making:
That Christmas spirit is –
Not what you drink.
So how can you laugh when your own mother's hungry?
And how can you smile, when the reasons for smiling are wrong?
And if I just messed up your thoughtless pleasures,
Remember, if you wish, this is just a Christmas song.