Category Archives: Snow Wonder Christmas Album

Some thoughts, during the Christmas season about my Christmas album – Snow Wonder

Snow Wonder – a new traditional Christmas carol

 

I was out in Penticton, BC once in early October. Had spent the day doing non-outdoorsy winestuff. It was pouring really hard. Went to a couple wineries, tried  and bought some wine, brought it home, chopped some wood, (I guess that counts as out-doorsy), started a fire, cooked dinner logsand sat down to drink some more wine.

 

 

 

As is my usual custom when I am sitting about not doing much of anything, I grabbed my guitar. The blustery weather put me in the mood to do something I had thought of doing before but hadn’t – write a Christmas song. It happened very quickly. I just started picking on a D chord and decided to try a descending bass line with an ascending melody would be d chordinteresting. The second chord was a rough one but necessary – a chordA/C# – with another high A at the top. Yes, I know you non-players don’t know what that means – let’s just say it is pretty rough making that transition from a D.

 

 

 

The whole song was written in about 45 minutes, at least, the main guitar part. There were still other parts.

My beautiful Larivee D-03
My beautiful Larivee D-03

 

Those mostly came in the studio when the layering of the various instruments was to take place. You see, it was meant to be a song evocative of the Christmas’s of my generations music studioyouth, (as can be seen in the video).

 

 

 

Now, my generation, who grew up in the ’60’s and ’70’s, was NOT the generation which used candles on trees and popcorn on a string as an ornament but we were damn close. We had shopping mall Santa and Charlie Brown Christmas and the Rudolph TV show in that strange animation, (it will air another 428 times this December in Calgary – maybe more in your town). We had eggnog, staying up later and getting up early and family get togethers, charlie brown xmasneighbourhood parties, caroling door to door and, most importantly as relating to the video, who could forget that we had “Go play outside!” from the adults. And we would. For hours. And hours. Even in this frigid city.rudolph

 

 

 

I think that instruments like the shakey bells that the Salvation Army people shake in the malls and the organ are considered by my generation to be traditional instruments, as are tubular bells, music box(main melody) and the music box, (accompanying the guitar as the background music).

 

tubular bells

 

I will grant you that the tertiary melody played with guitar harmonics make be a bit of a stretch when defining tradition but …

 

I think the song is really a nice guitar backdrop with a series of contrapuntal melodies weaving around on top. Yet, to my ear at least, it never gets dizzyingly complicated. In fact, because the tubular bells tend to dominate, you might miss the other guitar playing along-side them. The shakers definitely get subsumed by all the other instruments but they are there throughout, (the verse).geoffreycode_snowwonder

 

Regarding the video, it is vintage footage taken from the Prelinger Archives, mixed with some silly footage of me playing my guitar in various places around the beautiful city of Kimberley BC. Great snowstorm that day. Took some footage of me playing the keyboard too but it just doesn’t have the same edginess as walking around with a guitar in a snowstorm.

 

 

When the Flowers and the Dust Have Gone

When the Flowers and the Dust Have Gone

Music and Lyrics by Geoffrey Code

Vocals – Jennifer Kapp

From the album Snow Wonder

snowflake

snowflakeThe first flakes

Fall from the gray sky

Autumn’s goodbye

(When the flowers and the dust have gone)

The wind blowsWinter snow, Kent, England, UK

And the snow flies

Winter’s first sigh

(When the flowers and the dust have gone)

flowersHave you seen when flowers and the dust have gone?dust-bowl-cause-1

Have you seen when flowers and the dust have gone?

blizzardWhen the snow

makes its debut

I am as new

(When the flowers and the dust have gone)

The moon’s glowmoon

Is a preview

winter’s milieu

(When the flowers and the dust have gone)

 

Have you seen when flowers and the dust have gone?

Have you seen when flowers and the dust have gone?

Jennifer Kapp - she sang the vocal on 'When the Flowers and the Dust Have Gone' from the Snow Wonder album.
Jennifer Kapp – vocalist

geoffreycode_snowwonder

When The Flowers and the Dust Have Gone

When the Flowers and the Dust Have Gone

There is a new Indie Christmas compilation that came out December 5 called Birds of Christmas. It features a bunch of great songs by unknown musicians, like me. It’s a free birds of canadadownload so follow the link, listen to it, download it and enjoy.  (Thanks Adam and CIVL Radio!)

 

My contribution is a song called When the Flowers and the Dust Have Gone. Here’s the story behind that song.

In the autumn of 2011 I was working on a Christmas album. I don’t know about you, but, frankly, I am damn tired of hearing the same Christmas songs from November 1 to January 2 every year.

CVL-radio-logo1

What the Christmas canon needs is from fresh tracks.

Actually, I find it quite amazing how many new Christmas albums are released every year. Yes, there are a lot done by the big stars, putting their own spin on the traditional songs. I prefer newly written songs. Some of the big stars have done it and actually had hits with these songs. Way to go guys. Keep it up.

But in the indie market, there are many new albums released each year. Some, like mine, are a mix of originals and new arrangements of traditional songs. Others are all original and quite impressive.

Go to the website CDBaby and check out new releases anytime during the month of December and you will see for yourself. It’s great.

radio

Anyway, I was working on this Christmas album and, one night, I was driving along this country road. Suddenly, out of nowhere, these lyrics hit me. This has never happened to me before. The lyrics are about the first snowfall of the year. I was humming a riff that I had written on the guitar some time earlier and these words erupted. It was pretty cool. So, I pulled over and wrote them down.

Like I said, I was thinking of using this old finger-picking chord sequence that I had written some time earlier but, when I got home and tried it, it sounded flat and lame. I tried it on the piano, changed it up a bit, added a slick little intro and, boom, done. Just needed a vocalist.

I just happened to know one who was available – a former guitar student of mine named Jennifer Kapp.

Jennifer Kapp - she sang the vocal on 'When the Flowers and the Dust Have Gone' from the Snow Wonder album.
Jennifer Kapp – she sang the vocal on ‘When the Flowers and the Dust Have Gone’ from the Snow Wonder album.

I am really glad I called on her for she brought the melody to life in that song. And I think her voice is terrific.

Jennifer and I did a cd release show which was well attended and quite successful. The plan was to shoot some footage and release a video but the footage was incomplete. I actually tried to salvage it and mix it with some vintage footage of various landscapes matching the lyrics but we had such a small amount of footage that it ended up being like those old Spiderman cartoons – where he is swinging across the cityscape but he keeps going over the same background. I decided that it was not cool to have repeated footage Jennifer and me at different points in the song, although I still have the video and it is quite funny.

geoffreycode_snowwonder

I am still playing Flowers and Dust as part of my regular set list.

And the title? It is an obvious reference to everything being covered in a blanket of snow.  The phrase itself, however, was coined down at the swimming hole we used to frequent. Down by the Sheep River about ten miles west of Okotoks, we used to drive down an old cart path for about a mile, park and walk for another mile or so. Great place. The river was warm in the summer, there was an old log that served as a diving platform, and we had a fire pit right beside the river. We spent a lot of time there, hanging out, talking, drinking. It was on one such day long excursion that our silly conversation led to the words that are now an ode to the first snowfall.

Cheers Peter!

Snow Wonder – A Christmas Album

I will admit the landscape is not completely barren. All I Want For Christmas is a pretty catchy song. I still consider it a new entry into the canon of Christmas carols – and it came out in 1993! imagesmariah

 

Of course, some people consider that rather dreary version of Little Drummer Boy that David Bowie concocted with Bing Crosby to be a new entry.

I suppose new entries into this market are so rare, that even old entries are considered new.

8_McCartney

There are some Christmas carols that are good, (O Holy Night – Jon Anderson), some are corny, (Wonderful Christmastime – Paul McCartney and Wings), some are uplifting and some are just plain bad, (Jingle Bell Rock anybody?) And we get to hear them for six weeks every year.

anderson

Rather than complain about it, I did what any sensible musician would do – recorded my own Christmas album. Snow Wonder.

 

The album, (or, more properly, the EP) is six songs – four covers and two originals.

 

The covers are as follows:

Silent Night. Recorded with four guitars it retains its serenity and pastoral feel, (except maybe with that bent note near the end of the third verse. I considered re-doing that but left it in. It still buffaloes me.)

O Holy Night. A raucous affair featuring even more guitars layered up that Silent Night. The slides, which occur throughout the song, have always reminded me of the architecture of a Medieval Cathedral – purpose built to get you to gaze towards the heaven, so the soaring guitars are played to up-lift the listener.

geoffreycode_snowwonder

In The Bleak Midwinter – More of a Winter than a Christmas song but it certainly captures the mood of the title. Yet, the song is pretty enjoyable and brings out that certain melancholy one feels in the bleak mid-winter.

The Wassail Song – a nod toward the New Year after all the Christmas celebrating is done.

The two originals are called Snow Wonder and When the Flowers and the Dust Have Gone. I will post more about these two songs in the lead up toward Christmas. Oh, and, uh, Merry Christmas to all!

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