I didn’t originally plan to make a Christmas music-related list, as there isn’t really much of note this year. However, considering that I have twelve other categories, I figured: why not?
The only song that organically caught my interest this year is Coldplay’s “Christmas Lights.” Released as a single earlier this season, I decided to check it out, as Coldplay’s last album was actually quite good. A bit overrated, to be sure, but certainly one of the best of 2008. And while “Christmas Lights” may not be a contender for an all-time holiday classic, it is the best I’ve heard this year.
The other two that stood out to me are the original tracks from Wilson Phillips’ new Christmas CD. “Warm Lovin’ Christmastime” and “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day” have the Beach Boys-esque harmonies you’d expect and manage to pull off that Christmas feel that is essential for a great yuletide track.
So, consider checking out these songs, though in this category I am a big fan of the rock classics — Elvis Presley, Phil Spector & friends, Chuck Berry, the Beach Boys, etc. — and new classics — Barenaked Ladies, Moody Blues, Relient K, Brian Wilson, etc.
Merry Christmas to you and yours, and hurry back tomorrow for one of the biggest lists of the year!
The BEST ORIGINAL CHRISTMAS SONGS of 2010
1) “Christmas Lights” – Coldplay
2) “Warm Lovin’ Christmastime” – Wilson Phillips
3) “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day” – Wilson Phillips
Good evening and welcome to what has become a Christmas tradition for me here at the Laptop Sessions. Each year since 2007, I have posted one yuletide original during the month of December. Last year, I wrote and recorded a song on Christmas eve, so this year I wanted to post another on the last Original Wednesday before Christmas Eve.
This year’s selection is one I wrote years ago and was first included on the Chris, Jim, and Mike holiday album Our Christmas Gift to You. To be honest, I don’t remember exactly when I wrote this song, but I certainly remember my first recording. I had never recorded using a multi-track mixer, so Mike lent me one that he had inherited from a local photographer. In its day, it had been a really nice system. Unfortunately, some of the controls were off and there were certain tracks that would become spliced together — I’m not sure how else to describe this. Essentially, I couldn’t lower or raise the volume on one track without another following it.
That being said, it felt like Mike was handing me a portable professional studio!
I rushed home late from Mike and Jim’s house that night, quietly snuck into my house (my parents were fast asleep), and set up in the small bathroom in the basement. After about twenty minutes of silent trips up to my bedroom, the mixer had been set up on the toilet, the microphone stands near the shower, the keyboard by the towel rack, and I was sitting on my stool with my back against the sink.
And yes, I am holding myself back from making the obvious stool/bathroom pun here…
The version I recorded that night was quiet and a bit sloppy, but it really wasn’t as sloppy as it should have been for my first recording. To be certain, many songs that I would record later on more reliable equipment seemed, at least to me, to be inferior to the overall feel of my first “Moment.”
The next version that I recorded was for the November 25, 2004 release of Our Christmas Gift to You. I felt very much like the rawer, indie cousin of my future bandmates, as my two songs weren’t as fully produced as Jim and Mike’s were. Still, it felt — and still feels! — exciting and, to be honest, like an honor to hear “Christmas Cards” and “Moment” alongside some of my all-time favorite Christmas originals, like “The First Snow” and “Christmas Evening.”
Although “Moment” sounds very quirky and I salivate just thinking about a day in the future when I might re-record it with a minimalist drum kit keeping time, I always liked it (and, of course, I’ll always have the MoU Christmas Concert 2006 CD to hold me over…). “Moment” is one of those songs that makes me feel something when I listen to it. Even now, years and years after writing it, I remember exactly how I felt the day I wrote it. It’s like being able to pick up a guitar or put on a CD and go back in time to the end of high school/beginning of college. As you’ll hear, it’s a song about a person who has just learned that the love of his life is returning to town after being away for a year, ostensibly as a journalist overseas. The narrator hasn’t heard from the person, only rumors, and is frustrated that no one seems to understand how important this news is to him. As the song continues, we get some flashbacks to the previous Christmas and a vague but satisfying real-time encounter set during a Christmas eve church service. The final line explains the title: “Hay was all they had in the manger — hay was all that Mary had; but that didn’t matter none to Mary ’cause Mary had Joseph to share each and every moment…”
If you’ve ever found yourself at Christmastime, connected to what used to be close friends merely by rumor and third-hand report, then you’ll understand where this song is coming from. For this recording, I tried to harken back to my first off-the-cuff, essentially one-take recording by staying in my pajamas and simply playing it once to rehearse it before hitting the “record” button.
The result? My third Original Wednesday post on the eve of Christmas.
The problem? I’m fresh out of original Christmas songs for next year…
I’ll just have to hope inspiration strikes before then!
Welcome to your Christmas 2010 edition of the Laptop Sessions with Jim Fusco! I couldn’t let the Christmas Season go by without presenting a cover song music video for you, so I present Elton John’s Christmas classic “Step Into Christmas”.
You know, growing up, I never loved this song. I think my father wasn’t a huge fan of it, so that tainted my view. But, as time went on (and I became a bigger Elton John fan) I realized that this is a pretty great tune. In it, Elton says, “I’d like to thank you for the year.” Obviously, he’s talking to his many fans and I’d like to do the same: THANK YOU for another great year here on the Laptop Sessions acoustic cover songs music video blog! In the past year, I’ve seen the term “Laptop Sessions” come up as a search suggestion in Google. That’s pretty cool and means that plenty of people have been searching for this site! Also, I’m only a few days away from reaching 800,000 YouTube views- 80% of the way towards my ultimate goal of a million! I have had renewed ambition lately to promote the Laptop Sessions blog and my YouTube videos, so I hope I keep it going- my goal is to reach a million YouTube views sometime in 2011- hopefully the first half!
A funny note about “Step Into Christmas” by Elton John: the chorus always seemed odd to me. I, for the first 26 years of my life, always thought he said, “Eat in the evening, come along with me.” I thought that was such a stupid line! I mean, Bernie Taupin couldn’t think of anything else you could do at Christmas other than eating in the evening?? Well, I decided that I should find out for sure if that was the line- turns out I was wrong. He really says, “Eat, drink, and be merry; come along with me.” Wow- I was WAY off! Well, to be fair, I don’t think I ever would’ve guessed that- how did they fit those words into that short of a time-span? Well, I figured it out and included it in my song. I’m glad I did- there’s been a few Laptop Sessions cover songs videos where I sang incorrect words because I thought I knew them. They’ve always haunted me. For instance, on Brian Wilson’s “Live Let Live” video, I sang, “Pure Pacific, just as sure as the sky.” I had no idea what that meant, but since Van Dyke Parks wrote the lyrics, I figured I shouldn’t ask questions. Well, I did decide to ask questions, and it turns out the line is, “Blue Pacific, as azure as the sky.” Ohhhhh, THAT’S what he said! Brian has gotten a tad bit of a slur in his later years, and “as azure as” is hard enough to say anyway! So, I botched that line. I’ve never been proud of that video as a result.
Anyway, I hope everyone has a great Christmas!! I’ll be back right before New Year’s with another video, but I happy I got in this Christmas cover song today. This year, I’m hoping to have one of the most memorable Christmases ever and I’ll be sure to tell you all about it after the big day comes. I can’t believe it’s just a week away! Until then- MERRY CHRISTMAS!!
A week away. I just can’t believe it. I haven’t had time to breathe, but I’ve managed to set up the whole house, buy and wrap gifts, and watch Christmas movies in this short period we call Christmas time. During these last few days, I’m trying to make the absolute most of it, and that involves doing things I actually want to do when I get home. I’m glad to bring you tonight’s Original Wednesday.
You know, I tried to present a new song here tonight, but my last Original Wednesday of the Session-a-day project rounds out with yet another Christmas song. I can’t believe we’re at the end of this project already. I mean, it’s been a lot of work and a long time in the making, but I look forward to the time when I can actually go back and appreciate it all. It’s been a great life-journal over these past few months.
Tonight’s orignal song is a tune that my father dictated to me, to which I attempted (back in 2000 or 2001) to add chords to. He’s maintained throughout the years that I didn’t get it right. The original music had a flute behind it. I remember the flute part exactly. I know that’s what he wanted in there. He says I don’t sing it right, either, but I suppose that’s the nature of cover songs…and the nature of transposing a song from a tune to the piano when you really don’t know how to play. Again, this was seven years ago when I was still VERY new to any of the “musical” instruments. I knew how to play the drums, but picked up piano and guitar on my own.
I actually remember being out at, I think, a place like Sturbridge Village with my aunt many summers ago and specifically buying one of those tin flutes so I could play this song’s flute part. I know I have a version of it somewhere. Wow, I think it’s actually right in front of my face right now on the desk in my room. If Chris gets me REALLY drunk (kidding!) maybe he can talk me into playing that almost certainly embarassing tape of Christmas songs for him. Hey, free fast-food always helps. But, then again, I owe him for last night’s dinner because I forgot to pay for his! What a friend I am…
I got to do a little shopping tonight, allowing me to neglect my nightly freelance work in favor of spreading some Christmas cheer. I hope I have a nice weekend and a nice time leading into Christmas.
Oh, and as one last note: I made a comment at work today about one of the reasons I love Christmas music so much. I really do like it more than just about anyone. I have over 200 Christmas songs and love every single one. Anyway, one of the reasons I love it so much is because of how happy the songs are. I can count on one hand the sad Christmas songs. And even those have sleigh bells…
Tonight’s original song is one of those sad songs (with sleigh bells) that basically points out how Christmas can be a sad time if no one’s there to make it a big event. I took my father’s verses (whether he says they’re correct or not) and appended the fast part way back then. The parts actually work together well and the lyrics even follow the same sentiment: “I want to be home on Christmas. If I’m not, then I’ll be sad. If you’re wondering why I’m sad, just look around and notice that I’m not home and around loved ones for Christmas!” So, it all comes back around.
Good night and see you on Saturday! Stay tuned for a great Thumpin’ Thursday post with Chris Moore tomorrow!