It’s totally understandable if you traditionally pull the compilation A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector (1963) from your record collection on December 25, but dozens of new X-mas records are also released every year. This is a nice example. Tim O’Connell, award-winning songwriter from Nashville (he’s the one who wrote A Singer of Songs for Johnny Cash), recorded ten original Christmas songs, now brought together on the album Silent Nights. It’s not just another collection of holiday standards, and that’s where it gets interesting for us. I asked Tim how this project came about: “I didn’t really set out to write an alternative Christmas album, it just sort of took shape over the years because the songs were all a little left-of-center. The only time I sat down to intentionally write a Christmas song was with Let’s Save Christmas. The rest of them just became Christmas songs after I started writing them.” The title track in particular has a good story attached: “I had written it in the 90’s some time. I was out driving one evening in March, and I passed a house that still had its Christmas lights up. The lines “The Christmas lights blink off and on // Another year has come and gone” came to me. I had a melody with it, but when I got home I couldn’t remember the melody. For a while I was singing it to the tune of the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. I eventually came up with an original melody, and I decided to put the stops in the bridge just because I thought it sounded cool that way.” I’m not sure cool is the right description, but this music – don’t expect a classic country sound – is quirky, warm, surprising and entertaining, and a welcome change this December.
“When I was growing up // Just a little boy // I wrote to Santa Claus not to bring me any toys // Just a little tin drum and a pair of sticks // ‘cause with a rocking little rhythm I could get my kicks // Come on, everybody, don’t you want to move your feet to the beat?”
Silent Nights is out now digitally and on CD. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp