Christmas Time in Our Little Town
It all started back in 1977, when I got my first teac four track recorder. I wrote and recorded a demo for 'I Felt This Way All Year'. Everyone seemed to like it and the great feeling of writing a song was something that would stay with me. In the mid 1980's, while living in New York City, that city Christmas feeling inspired me further so 'Christmas Dreams' and 'I Love You Christmas Day' were written and demoed . My friend and band mate John DiPinto played piano, and I sang. Also we re recorded 'I Felt This Way' with John on piano and strings, myself on guitar and my wife Sue (who was a NY actress and fabulous singer) doing the vocal. That recording was pressed onto a 45 record. Fast forward to the year 2000. I was teaching in public school and had the idea to do a Christmas song for the kids in the holiday concert. This was 'The Child Is Christmas'. The reaction to the song was great and I decided to have my then 11 year old daughter Marialena record it. It was obvious by that point that Marialena could really sing, and I can still today feel the goosebumps from that recording session. The song came alive, and it is the track that opens this album. A year later I decided to re record 'I Felt This Way All Year', with Sue and Marialena sharing verses. That recording from 2001 is track 8. A few years go by, then in December of 2005, while on tour with 'The Boy Friend' in Costa Mesa CA, the idea for a song called Christmas Piece by Piece comes as a nice idea for my youngest daughter Annaliese. The only reason for the title I think was that it rhymed with her name. But the idea is tucked away and not acted upon. In the fall of 2006, I began writing again. The first to come out of that time was a gospel feeling song called 'Give It All Away'. The chant like idea came while running along a leaf filled lake side trail in the beautiful autumn of the Berkshires in Pittsfeild MA where I was playing banjo nightly on stage in 'Mame'. When I returned home from Pittsfield, I got everyone (family) involved in singing different verses and recorded it. That is track 2. I then rekindled 'Piece By Piece', (reminded by Annaliese of her song), figured out a main idea, wrote the lyric and music, and had Annaliese record it, which she was coming out of her skin to do. She was 11 at the time. I kind of like the Beatleness of the bridge .(The Calliope), I was thinking about 'Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite' (The Beatles Sgt Pepper Album).Anyway, there is track 3. I guess as the years roll on, some disappointment at the cold realties of life of naturally seeps in. These feelings led to the reflective disillusionment of 'Too Much In Christmas', which I knew only I could sing; track 10. In early 2007 the idea for an entire Christmas album came about. I knew it would be a long slog, because I only had 5 songs. Writing a song is a slow process, then there's the arranging, recording and mixing. I needed 5 more! The first 5 had been the product of many years, but I decided to dig in and try it. So in January and February of '07 I tried but could not muster the feeling I knew I needed . So I let it go and just waited for that spark to call again. Forward to the summer of 07. I was tinkering with a melody I liked. I usually spend some time each evening with my son in his room before he sleeps, and I noodle on the guitar. It is there 'We're Having Christmas Time' (No War Tomorrow) was born. After about 5 different titles and chorus ideas, the song was recorded by Marialena. I wanted to use sound effects from Bob Hopes' Vietnam Christmas specials, so I ordered the DVD's and used small snippets in the intro and at the end of the bridge. In the fade, I use Walter Cronkite's' famous commentary on the Vietnam war, as a reflection of what is going now in Iraq. The main lyric lines are snippets from traditional Christmas carols, strung together. The musical introduction was inspired by 'I Am The Walrus' from the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour Album. Anyway, it all comes together on track 6. So now I have six songs in the can and needed four more, and it's October. The two that were written back in 80's in NY, 'Christmas Dreams' and ' I LY Christmas Day' just needed to be re recorded. I assigned 'Dreams' to Sue, and 'ILY' to Marialena, both with simple accompaniment. (actually Marialena insisted on only guitar on 'ILY' and I obliged, it would be easier for me) As it turned out she delivered the beautiful poignant performance that is track 7. Sue's deep resonant voice, with John DiPintos' 1983 piano lines (which I transcribed from the original demo), brought out the soul in 'Christmas Dreams', track 5. So now it's still October and 2 songs away from my goal of ten. While sitting in a plaza in NYC waiting to perform in the pit band at 'Spamalot', I wrote down a lyric (on the back of my Spamalot music!) called 'Christmas In Connecticut' and thought it would be a good title song for the album. I continued working on it till Marialena asked; 'does it have to be Connecticut'? Being overly sensitive, I changed it to 'Christmas Time In Our Little Town', which I like better anyway. When the line 'downtown on the green' came, images from our green and tree lighting in Guilford CT came fast and furious and after one train ride, the lyric and music were written. (I carry a walkman type cassette recorder with me at all times and sing into it). I needed something for the middle, maybe kids playing, or a street scene. I remembered the scene in 'It's a Wonderful Life' where the kids are sledding. I recorded that off of the TV from the DVD, digitized it, and put it in. Marialena as usual sings it great, track 4. ( I still get those goosebumps even now) Now I needed one more, but was stuck. And it's now November. I started and stopped at least 3 songs, ('Here Come's Christmas Again', 'Exactly Like A Kid At Christmas', 'Trying To Write This Christmas Song', and one other I can't remember, all with lyrics written on little bits of paper all over the place. I was just tired of Christmas songs and could not get excited about another angle on it, then... my son Luke says ' how about a song that doesn't have Christmas In the title? Good idea, but what?, well the obvious New Year song. So the first line comes; 'So what's the new year about?'. And rest follows fairly quickly within a few days. Lucas and I trade verses on the optimistic 'Happy New Year'. Reflecting how I feel right now. 'We're starting over now', a new year, new life, new day. Track 9. I couldn't find a place other than last for the kinda down 'Too Much In Christmas'. I guess it reflects the kind of dissillutionment and dissapointment many feel sometimes at this time of year. I love Christmas, but life has taken some turns that prompted it's composition. I felt I needed to include it. Anyway, Merry Christmas to all, Nick.