A few years back, it became axiomatic to those aural Rodney Crowell’s activity that he had soured on Christmas. The singer-songwriter accomplished the point area you accommodated the anniversary decorations on administration abundance shelves in September with a frown, rather than the accessible smile that would accept greeted the afterimage aloof a few years before. It was alone the adventitious appointment with the words of a adolescent Texas-born Americana artisan on adopted clay that angry his assessment about to such a amount that Nov. 2 will see the absolution of Christmas Everywhere (New West Records), the aboriginal Christmas anthology of Crowell’s career.
“A brace of winters ago I was in Scotland,” Crowell told Billboard. “It was afterwards Christmas, but it still acquainted like the holidays. I had started absorption a Christmas album, and I knew I didn’t appetite to aloof awning all of the acceptable Christmas songs, as that has been done by every artisan that rises up to a assertive akin of fame. I started cerebration about advancing up with some of my own tunes, and again I heard Hayes Carll’s ‘Grateful for Christmas’ on the radio, a Christmas song that he had accounting that was absolutely able and honest. I said to myself, ‘That’s it,’ and the songs aloof started advancing to me.”
Christmas Everywhere features twelve aboriginal songs by Crowell, including the R&B alloyed “When the Fat Guy Tries the Chase On For Size,” premiering on Billboard. The artistic action for the anthology happened at such a accelerated clip that it afraid alike the songwriter, who accomplished tunes at a amount heretofore concealed during his career, although he angled the almanac out with a brace of songs that had been on the shelf for a while.
“I wrote best of this anthology in a actual abrupt time, abundant added bound than I usually write,” Crowell admits. “Ten or eleven songs would usually booty me a brace of years, but I wrote best of these in four or bristles months. I wrote ‘All For Little Girls & Boys’ for my two oldest daughters aback they were eight and four, aback in the aboriginal ’80s; we aloof sat on the attic and fabricated it up on the spot. I told them to aloof sing what they capital to sing, and that I’d aloof comedy along. Once it was recorded, we aloof gave it out that year as a Christmas card. Then, about in the ’90s, Chuck Cannon and I wrote ‘Christmas Makes Me Sad.’ We were aloof talking one night and one of us aloof threw out there, ‘Let’s address a Christmas song,’ and that one aloof sat there for years.”
Fifty years removed from his canicule as a boyhood arena in Houston barn bands, the six-time Americana Honors & Awards champ has alternate to absolution arguably one of the best attentive recordings of his acclaimed career. Here, he talks about activity the nontraditional avenue on a anniversary album, as able-bodied as the acclimation act in aggressive affairs after cynicism.
What was the afflatus for “When the Fat Guy Tries the Chase on for Size”?
I advise songwriting, and it can’t absolutely be taught, but area do you get yourself into a position to be aggressive to write? That’s one of the mysteries of autograph songs. It mainly gets done through a adherence to your assignment and craft. Aback I began autograph the aggregate of the songs, account were aloof advancing to me quickly. Aback I jotted bottomward the band “when the fat man tries the chase on for size” on a allotment of paper, aloof because the apriorism of Christmas, I set about autograph the song. The accent and dejection activity of it started to appear up during that process.
I’m appreciative of that song, Christmas time or no, and feel that every chat of it is in its absolute place. From a absolutely abstruse standpoint, demography the song for what it is, I accede it actual able-bodied written.
What led to your souring on Christmas years ago?
It was the commercialism, but additionally the actuality that the earlier you get, you activate to apprehend time is casual by faster; it feels like you had aloof accomplished adulatory the aftermost Christmas fifteen account ago. The appellation of one of the songs on the album, “Let’s Skip Christmas This Year,” came from songwriter Mary Karr, who said her mother would say it every year.
There’s a lot of assignment that goes into bearing Christmas for your family. We absitively to accord that articulation a song, one with some cynicism, but amusement all the way.
How adamantine is it to address about the blue acquainted by so abounding bodies during the holidays, but after the lyrics acceptable cynical?
That’s the job of a absolute writer. You accept a attenuate band to airing on, area you appetite the adventure to be accurate after giving in to that cynicism. Because there is a lot of bareness and a during Christmas time; the song “Merry Christmas From an Abandoned Bed” appearance a aggregate of things that actualize that melancholy. One affair that happened in my aboriginal activity was this bogus Christmas timberline that we had for a little while, and it aloof acquainted amiss to me, like what little adorableness we still had about Christmas was gone. I started out autograph about an bogus Christmas tree, and I accomplished I would accept to put it in some affectionate of anecdotal form, and that’s aback I accomplished out to Brennen Leigh [who is featured on the song]. I capital to accept a chat aural the song area the two narrators are not together, and don’t sing together, but they anniversary allocution about their accurate bearings at a time aback they accept abdicate speaking to one another.
There is some acrimony in some of the songs, and it’s there purposefully. I added it to the song “Clement’s Lament” that opens the album, with the band about “The division starts in August now, we’ll see you in the mall.” I mean, everybody I apperceive has to go to the capital admitting antisocial it at that time of year, and it’s not the best agreeable affair about Christmas.
Do you feel that assuredly absolution a Christmas anthology now fills in an abandoned atom in your career?
I’m animated to accept one, if alone for my children. I don’t kid myself; the apple wasn’t sitting out there, attractive at their watch and wondering, “Where is the Rodney Crowell Christmas anthology that we’ve been cat-and-mouse for all of his up and bottomward career?” Had I not fabricated it, I agnosticism I would accept gone off into the dusk afraid about never authoritative one. That actuality said, now that I’ve fabricated one, I’m blessed to accept done it.
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