SAC Songwriting Challenge #6 – Holiday Classic

I’ve had a Christmas idea kicking around for a while, so that was the first thing I thought of when I read this week’s challenge.

I wanted to tell a story instead of just listing off a bunch of Christmasy images. I grew up in Detroit so there was usually snow in December, but here in Vancouver it’s not that common to have a white Christmas, which I do miss. Instead of whining about not having any snow, it seemed more interesting to have the singer trying to cheer up somebody who’s bummed about the green winter landscape. Maybe they’re stuck inside, it’s Christmas eve, pouring raining instead of snowing, and he playfully asks the other person what’s on their Christmas list.

What’s the relationship? Young love is always relatable, why not make it their first Christmas eve together. And what’s on her list? Seemed kind of shallow to have her list off a pile of bling. Maybe they’ve abstractly hinted about wanting a future together, but neither one has come out and said anything directly yet. So our down-to-earth girl takes a deep breath and decides to take a chance. All she really wants is a family someday and a place for that family to live.

So now it’s out on the table. She’s a bit nervous, since she’s not totally sure how he’s going to react. And to his credit, our singer doesn’t run out into the stormy night. He seems pretty agreeable to her wish list. And when he has a chance to reply with his own, he’s wanting all of the same things. Two love-struck kids dreaming about their future together on their first Christmas eve. Sweet.

I started playing around with a major 7th chord on the guitar and fell naturally into a swing kind of rhythm. Once I payed closer attention to what I was picking I realized it was in 5/4 meter, which seemed a little too “outside” for a Christmas tune, so I added another beat to shift it into 6/8. Nice for waltzing around the tree. A hooky little melody sprung out of one of the verse lines, so that made its way into the guitar part. When it came time to demo, it felt more natural to play it on the piano instead of guitar. I called in my good friend AJ Turner to sing on it, who has a stunningly good voice and a sunny disposition to match, all positives for a song like this.

Will it become a classic? Who knows, but hopefully someday at least one young couple will hear it on the radio when they’re curled up on the couch during a rainstorm on Christmas Eve, and it will give one of them the courage to take a chance. Or, at the very least, make them smile.

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