Songwriters! If you’ve ever written an original Christmas song you know the drill: REMEMBER THE BULLET POINTS...or as they say in Nashville—the particular pieces of "furniture" that represent all things Christmas—the snowmen, the carolers, the mistletoe, etc.
And whatever you do, do NOT forget the jingly bells in the production. It’s not a Christmas song without jingly bells!
I love me a Christmas song. Over the years I’ve written a few that have gotten recorded…by *NSYNC, The Cast of Glee. A few months ago Scott Southworth invited me to play a couple on his Music Row Show in Nashville. Of course I said YAAAS! But the thing is, I don’t have the voice to effectively pull off just any song simply because I wrote it. Holiday song or not. So, I considered writing a new one—one that would fit my persona.
There wasn't much time before my trip so I couldn't dawdle and I’m not on my best game when I’m rushed and I don't do well with assignments (even if I assign one to myself) and I'm...Jewish. I know—some of the best Christmas songs have been written by those of the Jewish faith (I have to be careful how I word that after Kayla Moore’s recent comment).
But the biggest obstacle? The weather. As I drove around Los Angeles in flip flops, with the a/c blasting, I pondered (not for the first time), the irony: the environment in which I live is simply not conducive to the optics of Christmas—palm trees, swimming pools, sunglasses, fires :( . That said, I'm a writer! I have to use my imagination. How many love songs have I colluded in when I wasn't actually in love?
An idea I once threw around with a friend about this irony, kept tugging at my tank top as I gazed out my car window at the synthetic snow. My friend and I never actually wrote that song. Logistically, we were miles apart. And we were discouraged that there were other songs with the same or similar title…but truth is, you can’t copyright a title. And…you can write the same “idea” over and over if you approach it slightly differently. (Case in point—I’ve written 50 songs about the same college love who broke my heart.) So...after some thought, I gave myself permission to pursue.
I’d been meaning to experiment with alternate tunings (can you believe I never wrote a song in anything other than missionary position?) Let's give open-D a try, shall we? Anywhere you rest your fingertips in open-D gives way to a most pleasing result. As soon as my hand started sliding up and down the frets, the heartbeat of song revealed itself. Stuck for 2 weeks and...poof. You gotta love it. Permission opens doors.
The bridge sort of stumped me. Where to go? What more to say? Hadn't I used up most of the furniture? Ahh, there's always chestnuts! Yes, the chestnuts will do just fine. I took my song to Nashville and played it on Scott's show along with my own personalized version of "Extraordinary Merry Christmas" one of the songs I wrote for Glee. Maybe in July I'll pitch it for a record being made next Christmas. (July is the best month to write a Christmas song. Never in December.)
My apologies to the friend (if he reads this, he’ll knows who he is), with whom I discussed writing a song like this. I’m happy to share credit. It’s possible he’s written his own version too—in which case I say, WHAT???? How could you do that without me????
Merry Christmas everyone. I hope the holidays bring you…well…comfort and joy.
Would you like to hear my Christmas song? Twist my arm. Oh OK! Here it is!
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