Write Away Magazine Dec 2019

sandbagtimes

So This Is Christmas... An

In our last episode, one of the points we touched

upon was the need to tell a story that was new,

or at least an emotional groove that was new…

.”Love is great”, we said, was a statement that,

while true, was so universal as to be the worst

of all artistic sins: not interesting. And if there

were a “runner-up” prize for “Most dangerous

quagmire for new songwriters”, what could be a

more deserving candidate than Christmas! (we

note, as an aside, that topics like this are

particularly perilous for new, upcoming

songwriters…..songwriters with widespread,

universal appeal seem to get away with

generalized pap they call universal much more

easily...did Paul McCartney just click to a new

webpage? Well, if so, I hope he took his

Christmas bells (and John Lennon’s children’s

choir with him…..but I digress)

Christmas! Where religion, family, food,... and

toys coalesce….and don’t forget alcohol! If, as

the rehab counselors say, addiction is a

downward spiral of chasing a first time high over

and over, but never quite as good….well that’s an

apt description of what Christmas becomes for

many adults. That’s a whole nother book! The

problem for songwriters, however centers around

the fact that so many people already have very

strong emotional impressions from idealized

(half remembered) childhood experiences--they

already “know” more about Christmas than you

could possibly tell them. But they want you to

try.

Sales of Christmas songs clearly holler that (or

“carol” that, if you prefer). The waterfront,

unfortunately, has already been well covered,

which accounts for the further and further

“reaches” in order to say something new….

did the authors of “Grandma got run over by a

reindeer” just click to a new webpage? Could

they take the barking dog Jingle Bells people with

them? This is kinda for songwriters, ok.

Actually, though, Grandma and her reindeer are

actually what you need,or so I would suggest:

something outside the sappy “Love is great”

song...with “love” changed out to “Christmas”.

Which brings us to a personal story:

In 2014, I decided to take up the challenge of

a Christmas song. Hazardous, I knew….but

hadn’t I already written the “Best Song in the

World”? Well, I hadn’t...but I was runner-up

(twice) in a contest called that. And I still had

those Elixir coated guitar strings I had won as

“honorable mention” in a Billboard songwriting

contest….so I was clearly qualified ( I thought) to

take on a challenge that had reduced so many

talented writers to….dreck. But what to do….

what fresh spin could I possibly…...AH HA! It

came to me in a great moment of clarity (or so

I thought). I scribbled a few lines, and called

the band for rehearsal. I began teaching them

my epic: “All I want for Christmas is...a divorce”.

Suddenly, my wife Amy, who rarely takes

interest in musical matters, burst into the room.

“Did you write that? Is that yours?”, she asked.

“Uh…..maybe”, I sheepishly replied. There

was a pause that perhaps seemed longer than it

was…...and she responded “That’s the best song

you EVER wrote!”....I couldn’t be sure, but she

SEEMED neither sarcastic nor upset…..I chalked

it up to the power of ART….I think.

You decide, here it is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-c4G-

F4Rxpc

www.wildcatohalloran.com

And Merry Christmas….also

Happy holidays, Blessed Kwanza

etc

12 www.writeawaymagazine.co.uk

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