with ‘Coming Home For Christmas’ out now, G.Love takes us inside the magic of writing holiday tunes
This record has ten original Christmas anthems I wrote earlier this year. I holed up in Orleans, Massachusetts for six days in November and wrote one song per day. Within two days, I tracked the entire album alongside my producer Jon Evans at Brickhill Studios with Jon handling upright bass and Mathias Bossi on drums.
In my family, we’ve always had a strong tradition of caroling and sharing songs on Christmas. My Uncle Bob and I used to lead the family through all of the traditional carols as well as rock ’n’ roll hits like ‘Summertime Blues’ and ‘Steamroller Blues’. After my Uncle Bob passed, my brother-in-law Juan and I have continued the tradition. There was one of those Christmases back in the day when I got the flu or something and missed the family gathering, so I was home alone and wrote a couple of Christmas carols. ‘Christmas Blues’ and ‘Christmas Cookies’. It was then that I decided I would like to complete a full album of homegrown Christmas carols.
I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed making it. You can grab it HERE, on Brushfire/Republic Records. ~ G.Love
What is the first thing you think of when hearing a Christmas song? Cheer? Joy? Family? Friends? Children? Singing? Regardless, holiday music posses a unique liberating quality that somehow brings out a smile. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” A perfect catch phrase to capture the spirit of what the holidays are all about. The combination of all the aforementioned emotions, plus the opportunity to give.
What about when it comes to writing holiday songs? It’s rare to go into a writing session knowing exactly how the story-line is going to go, and what the emotion will be for both you and the listener. Knowing the topic to address will certainly be cheerful can be both the beauty and challenge of writing a Christmas song.
G.Love has a brand new Christmas record, released on December 8th, entitled Coming Home For Christmas. Here, he takes us inside his writing process where he steered away from any typical themes, and into a winter wonderland — capturing that unwavering spirit.
From a songwriter standpoint, how was it different for you in writing a Christmas song vs. a G.Love song?
Christmas songs are just a blast to write. As a songwriter, it’s good to have a palette of language and theme to draw from. When you’re writing a Christmas tune you have a huge palette of characters, emotions, memories, smells sights and sounds to draw from. As you listen to Coming Home For Christmas you can hear all of these Christmas moments and memories coming through in the songs.
Is there a difference in writing the music? Different chord progressions or approaches?
With Coming Home For Christmas my musical root was in the delta blues. You’ll find lots of open tunings and music inspired by the legends like LeadBelly, Lightening Hopkins and even a little Elvis style blues for good Christmas measure.
How did you come up with the different themes and Christmas variations lyrically?
My favorites on this record lyrically are “Cape Cod Winter Blues”, “Christmas Change” and “So Blessed”.
“Cape Cod Winter Blues” is me thinking about a small sleepy Cape Cod beach town during that long winter.
“Christmas Change” is a double entendre about giving spare change outside the department store, but on a more worldly and spiritual level how the during the holidays we do come together and are (at least for those couple of weeks) better people and bringing love to the communities in which we live. To quote an old song by Jasper “I’m trying to work on that year-round thing”
You mentioned hunkering down in Orleans, MA. Cape Cod is synonymous with a summer vibe, its fascinating that it inspired a Christmas record, how did your environment influence this music? Did you have a daily process or routine you would subscribe to that enabled the one song per day?
I had a couple weeks open up this fall and we were able to be down in Orleans where we are moving next year. I hadn’t had a chance to have a week-long writing retreat in a while so I just seshed out on the front porch and got into it. Once I decided to write some Christmas tunes, my focus was there and I was really able to hone in and reflect about the lighter and the deeper experiences of Christmas. In truth, it has always been the musical moments of Christmas, the singing of carols, that make the true essence of Christmas shine. I mean the shopping, the presents, the travel, family and friends parties — all this can be overwhelming and exhausting. The shared times of singing carols really brings everyone together in a meaningful way. And of course you have to end with “Silent Night” with the candles shining bright.
As a father, did your kids influence this record at all?
Yes, the kids always bring out the true joy of Christmas. Especially on the tune “So Blessed” which is for Kelsey and our baby Lewis.
How was it for you to write songs knowing that joy had to be a main emotion regardless of how you were feeling in that given moment?
For me the process of writing about those emotions we associate with Christmas was magical. The process of writing and trying to express into song the emotions of Christmas actually put me right in that space. So it was a very joyful and easy writing session. Everything was flowing. As a writer, you have to find that muse and when you have Christmas as a muse you could write forever and enjoy those feelings.
When writing a Christmas song, are there any elements from a writer’s perspective that you would classify as “imperative”… meaning, when you were writing, you know this song has to have “this”?
I never have rules for my writing I just try to have a beginning, middle and end. I try to tell a story and express emotion. I write selfishly, meaning I write from my heart, but with the intent to make people happy. Songs are meant to communicate and convey emotion. I want to first connect with myself so that I can connect to the listener.
The song “Christmas Rock” though, that had a rule which was to write in every Christmas character from folklore and TV. Everyone from Santa to Charlie Brown.
Now that you’ve completed the record and it’s available for all, Christmas is around the corner, how do you feel?
I feel ready to sing some carols:)) Merry Christmas!
G.Love’s Coming Home For Christmas is out now. Check it out here:
1. “Christmas Morning”
2. “Christmas Change”
3. “Cape Cod Winter Blues”
4. “Merry Christmas”
5. “So Blessed”
6. “Christmas Baby”
7. “Christmas Rock”
8. “Christmas Blues”
9. “Christmas Cookies”
10 “Christmas Boogie”
For tour dates (starting December 30th) visit: G Love’s Philadelphonic.com
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In collaboration with/produced by Jeff Gorra