Three years ago, in December 2019, a tweet went viral posting a link to a YouTube video in which all the lyrics to Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” had been changed to “The moon is right.”
Two days later, another, far more viral tweet joked that the lyrics can be read as the interruption of an act of witchcraft. (This joke has been cribbed in countless subsequent social media posts.)
I was immediately skeptical at the hearing of the lyric as “moon” rather than “mood,” but it was helpfully pointed out to me that the official @PaulMcCartney Twitter account had indeed posted the lyrics as “moon.” (Original tweet link, Wayback archive)
Last year, in December 2021, @PaulMcCartney again tweeted the opening lyrics (backup link), but this time with “mood” rather than “moon.”
I began to hunt more seriously for answers.
That same winter I bought both physical and digital copies of the expanded edition of McCartney II. This album does include the song, but turns out not to have the song’s lyrics in its liner notes.
Unhelpfully, the song was originally released as a 45RPM single, with no printed lyrics.
I discovered that the official Paul McCartney YouTube channel had posted the music video in 2019, and its captions read “The mood is right.”
Liveright published “Paul McCartney: The Lyrics,” a massive two-volume box set of printed lyrics for “154 of his most meaningful songs.” Evidently “Wonderful Christmastime” is not meaningful, as it is not included in this set.
Nevertheless, due to its making much more sense, I had personally concluded that it is, in fact, “mood” (though I never seriously doubted it).
Then, earlier this week, the author of the witchcraft tweet followed up with a notice that @PaulMcCartney has since deleted its 2019 “moon” tweet, and that McCartney himself has addressed the controversy in a recent interview:
No, it’s ‘the mood’. And you know what, I’m thinking about Liverpool Christmas parties, that’s really all I’m doing with that song. “The mood is right, let’s raise a glass, the spirit’s up” – you know, all the stuff you do at Christmas.