OK, 19 days from now until Xmas Eve, but who’s counting? (Um, besides me, just there.)
For the next bunch of days, I am going to post tracks from my band Burl, which from roughly 1996 through 2001 produced primarily albums full of Christmas covers.
We had only a few rules for these covers.
1. Could we play the song?
Every single year, we tried to figure out if we had gotten better enough to play a good version of ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, but not once did we find a way to do it we really loved. Different approaches, different singers, switching instruments an speeds and so on. Never anything we loved. And as you’ll hear, it’s not like our standards of “listenable” were EXACTING.
There is a version, and it’s fine, but it is some uneffable way not quite “burly”.
2. Was It Public Domain?
No interest in licensing fees for a vanity project. I think we strayed from that in later years, but mostly for covers that were so…distinct that I am pretty sure the original writers would not want to claim any kind of kinship.
3. Was It Mostly Non-Religious?
Except it’s CHRISTmas, so I tink that was mostly a reason for the other guys to tell me I shouldn’t ever — EVER — record a version of “Adeste Fidelis”, bellowing at the top of my lungs.
4. Ignore All Rules If It Cracked Us Up.
Every single one of these recordings cracked us up enough in concept or execution to get us through learning how to play it, recording it over and over and over again to get it right — or “right” — and then listening to it over and over and over again to get it mixed the way we wanted.
I still pity Spingo and Mark having to listen to my singing so many time, up close and personal in headphones. They were and are stalwart fellows with eardrums of iron and stomachs of steel.