I know, I know! It’s not even Thanksgiving yet & I’m already talking Christmas…this year I started thinking about the holidays in July, so don’t even get me started!
There’s nothing quite like invoking images of burning Yule logs and eggnog while melting in the Tennessee summer heat and swatting fat mosquitos. It’s was difficult to not feel a little silly while wearing shorts and a tank top, listening to Bing Crosby sing “White Christmas”. Couple that with the fact that Christmas music, as a general rule makes me think of muzak, which makes me think of shopping malls, which makes me think of crowds of shopping zombies, which reminds me “what am I gonna do for everyone’s presents this year?!,” which stresses me out, and then someone insists on offering me a free sample of a stale piece of fruitcake, I’m hungry, I eat the sliver, I get thirsty & need a coffee, “how ’bout gingerbread latte?” I walk into Starbucks and wait…more Christmas muzak!…Wait! How come they’re not playing me?!
I’ve always been a bit nervous about contributing to the pantheon of holiday music. Who wants to risk dethroning one of the Top 50 Worst Christmas records of all time? I mean – I love music. I love Christmas, but pitfall of Christmas music is that everybody knows the songs. As an artist, the immediate temptation is to do something so different and unique that you end up mutilating something that was simple and beautiful. Thanks to albums like “Yuletide Disco” & “Christmas with Kazoo” (as in, a whole record with kazoo as the primary instrument (of torture!)), I’ve been hesitant to be accused of making yet another clanger.
All that being said, it’s no wonder that it took a good friend and inspiring artist like Margaret Becker to entice me into some holiday cheer. Maybe it was the Pinot, but before I knew it, the simple exercise of two musicians sitting around and plunking out some old Christmas hymns turned into something really special. With teeny budget, a little gear, and a lot of moxie, our little adventure turned into an actual record!
Margaret and I have sought to love these old hymns as if we’d heard them for the first time. Applying strict guidelines of simplicity, we vowed to honor the original tunes yet not stifle our style. Somewhat ironic to our lives as solo artists, each of us found ourselves fighting to see who could be part of the landscape and not the focal point. But perhaps the most surprising to me, was a sense of wonder about the actual story of Christ’s birth. Crazy what all that singing of new life, joy and renewed hope can do for a soul.
I can be downright cynical when it comes to the commercial trappings of the holidays. Sometimes I fight so hard – judging the chintzy little snow globe before giving it a shake and imagining the world inside. I could have had yet another Christmas where I ran through the mall as fast as possible, crossing off items on a list in a materialistic grab for happiness and praise…but then this record happened and I remembered something I often act too cool to remember: Hope. The thrill of it helps this weary girl rejoice!
Merry Early Christmas!