It’s a couple of days before Thanksgiving 2020 and I guess that it’s a little harder to get in a “thankful” mindset this year. I could make a list of reasons why this has been a pretty sucky year, but I won’t. I’ll just remind you to look at your 2020 Bingo card.
I have often thought, for a few years now, that, while most of us have really had a tough time dealing with the antics of the outgoing administration, the late-night comedians have been enjoying a never-ending source of material. Sometimes it really didn’t need a whole lot of embellishment, either. The President suggested that we cure the Coronavirus by injecting ourselves with bleach - that’s pretty damn funny on its own!
This year has been pretty inspirational for me, as well. I finished a new album: “Full Moon Over Crazytown,” remixed and remastered another album, “Wheels In the Rain,” and prepared both of them for their physical CD release. I also am nearly finished with another album for 2021. That’s a lot of music.
One day, back in October, I found myself in-between recording projects, so I decided to re-visit my two Christmas songs that I had written a few years back: “The Rules of Christmas,” (from 2017) and “The Story of My Birthday,” (from 2018). As I said in my notes from the “Wheels in the Rain” re-release, I have learned a lot about making records in the last couple of years - enough to really make those two Christmas tunes quite a bit better than their original mixes. I also realized that neither of those songs had ever been officially released - if you have heard those songs you probably heard them on my old Reverbnation page.
Having two Christmas songs is cool, but also a problem. If I released them simultaneously, would they both get the attention that they deserved? I don’t know. Some people would probably listen to both, but I suspect that most would pick one and then move on. Maybe I’m just a pessimist, but most independent artists like me spend A LOT OF TIME trying to catch your ears and hold onto them as long as possible. Then I thought “why not write and record a couple more Christmas songs and release an EP?” Great idea!
Now remember that this was about mid-October. If I wanted to get this record out on the day after Thanksgiving, which was my goal, I would need to have it done right around the beginning of November. So...I had about two weeks to write and record two new Christmas songs.
Thankfully, good ol’ 2020 provided plenty of inspiration once again. Of course, no one wants to hear “Christmas in Crazytown,” so the inspiration would need to be more upbeat and hopeful. It didn’t quite work out that way. I was halfway successful.
The first one I wrote was “My Christmas Wish,” which I would describe as a 2020 version of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” I was thinking about “Christmas wishes” and thought:
“What would I wish for for Christmas this year?”
The answer was: to see my son, Sam, and his wife, Leandra, who live in Southern California. They were here for Christmas last year, and I have such wonderful memories of our time together. The Covid-19 pandemic makes a visit with them out of the question for the foreseeable future, so...that was what I wrote about. I tried hard to make the song as universal as I could and still be personal. I hope that I succeeded. I know that there are many, many people who have that same wish as me this year which, sadly, will not come true.
For the next song I wanted to write about how this Christmas would be different from all of the other Christmases that we all have known. I started making a list of all the “Christmassy” things that we would not be able to enjoy during a pandemic. The list was pretty long and, frankly, kind of depressing. The whole “upbeat and hopeful” goal seemed to be slipping away. The whole project seemed doomed.
Then I had a moment of clarity that I can only describe as a truly divine inspiration. It’s as though God whispered in my ear and said:
“The most important thing about Christmas has not changed - not even in a pandemic.”
That was it. I had my song: “Psyched For Christmas.” It’s a song that I am really proud of, and I hope it brings you the same joy that it has brought to me.
“The Story of My Birthday” is another song that I am super-proud of. I was thinking about how, when my kids were little, they always enjoyed hearing about the events and circumstances surrounding their birth. So I wondered “How would Jesus’s parents tell him about his birth?” The fact that I have teenage Jesus as the narrator in the song makes it even better, I think. And yes, the drummer boy makes an appearance.
“The Rules of Christmas” was written for the songwriting game that I am a part of. Every two weeks we have to write a song to a given prompt. The prompt, in this case, was “Rules.” Christmas was approaching, and I kind of blurted out “The Rules of Christmas.” This started a vigorous debate amongst my family as to whether there actually are any rules for Christmas. My stance was “Yes! There are!” Every family has certain traditions that are so set in stone that they must be followed for Christmas to be “complete.” The song lays out several “rules” that were, or are, true for my family. Yours may be similar.
So that’s it. I finished the record. My shipment of CD’s arrives today. It’ll be out digitally at 12:00 am EST on November 27. I hope you love it. I hope you’ll share it with your friends and family. I hope it becomes a part of your Christmas every year.