“Moment” (Chris Moore Original)

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By Chris Moore:

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!

Merry Christmas, and I’ll see you next session!

“Blue Christmas” (Elvis Presley acoustic Christmas cover song)

By Jim Fusco:

Welcome, welcome to another edition of the Laptop Sessions in high definition!  Tonight, I bring you the second video from last week’s recording session.  This one is truly a classic off of one of my favorite all-time albums: Elvis Presley’s 1957 Christmas Album.

“Blue Christmas” is a song everyone knows.  And, I’m pretty sure that with tonight’s recording, that every single musician in the last 50 years has recorded a version of it.  I happen to do mine in Elvis’ style, but I love Brian Wilson’s version on the Beach Boys Christmas Album, too.  But, while Brian’s version is sad and melancholy, Elvis gives this song so much raw soul.  It’s his “uh-huh” singing at its best and is on my list of “perfect recordings”.  Those are the songs (like, for instance, the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows”) that couldn’t be any better- just the perfect blend of instrumentation, songwriting style, vocals, etc.

Of course, “Blue Christmas” was even recorded earlier than Elvis’s version- as early as 1948!  But, Elvis made it a rock song and that’s the version that everyone knows.

I got to use my colleague Noreen’s 12-string Gibson acoustic from 1967 on this one- what a great sound!  It was so much fun to play.  When you’re using that guitar in a room with good acoustics, you feel like you’re a one man band.  I’m loving this new setup.  And, this week’s video was much easier to edit- literally took just a minute until it was rendering.  It’s such a nice feeling to get something done right the first time.

On a personal note, things have never been busier.  Whether it’s decorating the house, going shopping, cooking, working, etc. I’m never just sitting and relaxing.  I have a feeling it’s going to be like this until after the New Year, but I tell ya- I need some more sleep!  I’m looking forward to a couple of work parties, a couple of get-togethers at the new house, and general Christmas cheer.

If you haven’t done it yet, head on over to WCJM Free Internet Radio at wcjm.com and click on the Moore Hits in the Morning radio in the center of the screen.  You’ll then be taken to all of our radio shows that you can listen to absolutely free- click on any of the numerous Christmas shows and get ready to laugh!  They’re really entertaining and I listen to each of them at least twice each Christmas season to get me in that yuletide mood.

Okay, off to bed now- make sure to keep checking back this week for more great articles and videos from the Only Music Blog- The Laptop Sessions!