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 download 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.