Wednesday, September 23

The Story Behind The Song. Track 7 - A Merry Christmas To You

Ah, what a lovely after dinner mint of a song. I love the sound of this one. I'm almost more enamored with the sound of it than the song itself, though I like both.

So the story. During Christmas break I was sitting with my son (3 years old) while he played his drum kit. I had my mustang out and plugged in. We rock together regularly. While he was wiling out on the kit, I came up with the basic guitar riff that you hear on the twangy electric throughout the verses of the song. That established the meter (6/8 or 2/4 followed by 4/4 depending on how you count it) and the groove/vibe. As it was Christmas, I decided to write a Christmas song. And I wanted it to be all Wedding Present-y and jilted male and stuff. That's pretty much it for the genesis, here.

There wasn't a specific broken-heart experience that led to the tale itself. But I've pulled the feel and tone from how I've felt at various times. I also decided that I've taken myself way too seriously in various situations in the past, and so I had the idea of having the girl's perspective layered in on top as a duet. So here you have this obsessed guy obsessing on this girl. He's built the girl up into something magical - like Christmas! The girl knows he exists, but barely, recognizes he has a crush on her but doesn't pay it much of a thought when he shows up and sees her smooching somebody else (somebody she actually likes). She never does realize that he came to send her off with a gift, but if she had, she would have found it awkward and kind of unnerving, not charming. So yeah, you can see that as heartbreaking or sad, but it's also absurd and stupid in exactly the way that unrequited crushes can be. The girl's perspective is perfectly valid, after all, isn't it? It's just less "romantic" than the guy's. PS: There's a reason why "romantic" is in quotes.

Now! This will be fun. In my head, when I see all this play out, it's all at the Carnegie Mellon campus. And thanks to the miracle magic of Google Maps and Street View, I'll show you EXACTLY where.

When he sees her kissing the guy, he's walking across the street at THIS VERY INTERSECTION.

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Of course, it's winter in the song, but this is the spot. She's down by that brick building dead ahead, on the right by the street. There's no train there, but that's where the shuttle bus would pick up to go to the airport. (See? I'm bending reality again.) When I picture the train station / icy stairs version in my mind, I picture a Harlem above-ground station like this.

And later, when he's walking around ("as I walk, I stop to see the sights / people shop / the doors are decked in lights"), it's on Craig St. Right here.

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...Only a block away from where he saw his crush kiss that other man.

So there you have it. That's the interior shot from my brain.

Production-wise, there's lots of fun stuff here. Guitars, guitars, and more guitars. We had a fake sleigh bell that we had tried to concoct from recordings of a single jingle bell, but it didnt work out and so I removed it from the final mix. (Sorry, Daniel!) The duet is sung by Michelle Plaitis, a friend of Steve's.

Oh, last fact. I tried to get Sarah Anderson of Softee to sing the duet with me but she said she was too busy. :) Now that's heartbreak! oh well. :) I think in the end, she missed out. She has no idea how great a guy I am. Haha. Now I'm off to cry and throw this book away. :)

- Jesse Kates / Download our music for FREE


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