Christmas in July

Well, here it is, the beginning of July — time to introduce a new Christmas song. If you’ll kindly turn to, er, click on, my main MySpace page you’ll find a new song, “The Day After the Day After Christmas” (written with Mike Parker), among your choices. If it doesn’t automatically play when you bring up the page, go ahead, click on it and have a listen. You’ll also find the lyrics there if you’d like to have a gander.

Huh? Okay, I confess, this really isn’t the greatest time of year to bring out a new Christmas song. I should have done that in April, but better late than never, right? Double huh?! Isn’t the time to bring out Christmas stuff the same time the malls put out their Christmas decorations — you know, like the day after Halloween?

All lunacy aside, there’s a reason you’re hearing this song when there are still something like a hundred eighty shopping days left. I’m not quite sure what that reason is, but I’m pretty sure there is one.

Oh yeah, now I remember. Here’s the scoop.

First off, when I mentioned April being the best time to bring out a new Christmas song, I was being serious. April is roughly the time artists tend to start looking for material for their Christmas albums to be released later the same year. It takes awhile to sort through demos, filter out songs, try songs out, make the recordings (in between other things like performances), get the artwork done for the CDs, manufacture the CDs, and so on. Thus, if I am looking to get this song cut on a holiday CD to be released in 2006, I’m probably a bit late, especially if you add on the lead time from having a demo available to actually getting it heard by someone who might be looking for Christmas songs for an album for this year.

Unfortunately, though, I didn’t get around to even starting to record this song until June. Realizing that it may already be too late to place the song on other artists’ albums this year, I decided I’d put out my own Christmas EP this year. Whether it just goes out on iTunes and the like, or also as an actual CD, is still to be determined, but I need to get the recordings done far in advance of the actual release date, so June seemed as good a time as any to start recording this song.

The recording isn’t actually finished yet — I’m still going to add some additional instrumentation, maybe consider some background vocals, do a better job on mixing, and so on. However, it’s currently at a good breaking point for hearing the song itself, without being “tainted” by the added bits and pieces I’ll be using to personalize the song for myself as a recording artist. In other words, it’s just about at the right stage for serving as a song demo. Thus, I thought I’d put it out there now in that context, with the idea that maybe there are some artists out there planning to put out Christmas albums this year, who are still needing that one special song to complete their project, and perhaps this might just be that song. Hey, if Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts, or Lee Ann Womack is interested, I can even hold off for another year (or more) on my EP plans!

Even if no other artists, known or unknown, are looking at the moment, I’d be interested in hearing your feedback. What do you think of the song and the direction the recording is going at the moment? Do you have any thoughts on what sorts of special touches could help take this, rather vanilla, recording and spice it up to make it more interesting? The two main thoughts I’ve had thus far are either adding some Americana-flavored touches (perhaps some fiddle and accordion, for example) or some more pop-flavored touches (e.g. synth pads and other “ear candy”). I haven’t decided yet on whether it should have vocal harmonies, either.

For context, I’m currently planning a 3-5 song EP. Besides this song, there are two others you can hear at the moment, if you’re so inclined. The two definites are “Santa’s Best” and “It Started in a Manger” (click on the song name to see lyrics and be able to play the song). By the way, Tim, Lee Ann, and Rascal Flatts guys, if you’re reading this, you’re more than welcome to record these ones, too! (There’s nothing wrong with injecting a bit of blind optimism in a blog entry, is there?) There’s also a fourth original song that still needs a bit of rewriting, and to be recorded from scratch. If I have enough time left after finishing this one and the possible fourth song, I may also add one of my favorite traditional Christmas songs, though I’m not terribly optimistic on that possibility as it tends to take me a pretty long time to produce my recordings since I’m doing everything on them, one overdubbed part at a time.

The other bit of input I could really use, especially if you like what you’re hearing enough that you might be interested in the EP yourself, or know friends who might be, is whether a real CD is necessary in this modern age of iTunes, Rhapsody, Napster, and the like. I personally tend to like having the physical CD, including its graphics, and don’t even have an iPod myself, but I might just be a dinosaur on that particular front, and, of course, it’s easy enough to burn a CD from songs purchased on iTunes anyway. And, when you’re talking about a 3-5 song CD, the cost of the underlying media actually becomes more significant than in a 10 song album in terms of the per-song cost to the consumer.

I hope you’ll enjoy this non-seasonal break from the season. And, Merry Christmas! Er, I mean, Happy Independence Day!