I was out in Penticton, BC once in early October. Had spent the day doing non-outdoorsy stuff. 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 and 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 interesting. The second chord was a rough one but necessary – A/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.
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 youth, (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, neighbourhood 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.
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, (main melody) and the music box, (accompanying the guitar as the background music).
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).
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.