When a (Christmas) single is born

At the start of 2013 I made a new year’s resolution: this would be the year that we’d finally properly record A Perfect Christmas, the song I wrote with my good friend David Graham. And so it was that last Monday we spent the day at Orphan Recording in Dublin in the company of Gavin Glass and Scott Halliday. A further day of mixing and mastering by the lads and we had ourselves a single.

A Perfect Christmas was born in a little stone house just outside the village of Lamastre, France, in November 2006. Actually I had composed the tune a few years earlier and recorded a very rough demo with silly lyrics – nothing at all to do with Christmas. When David, Nigel (our bandmate in Hipster, “Limerick’s premier acoustic trio” at the turn of the century) and I rented a gîte for a week with the idea trying to write some songs, one of the aims was to come up with a Christmas hit that would mean never having to work again (à la Hugh Grant’s character in About A Boy). I proposed the melody and David worked with me on the lyrics.

We packed it full of all the usual seaonal imagery and clichés, but in a way that made sense for the song’s storyline. I can honestly say that I’ve really liked the song right from the outset. I love the genre in general: for me Christmas is about Chris Rea’s traffic woes, Slade’s nostalgia-tinged euphoria and Nat King Cole’s simply and aptly titled “The Christmas Song“. I wanted our song to catch that same happy mood and generate warm fuzzy feelings. We performed it live in Mulligan’s of Geneva a few days after it was written and it went down really well. And over the years I’ve had the same experience almost any time I’ve sung it for an audience – it seems to strike just the right note. (And the ding dong bit is always fun.)

Since 2006 I’ve done various rough demo versions of the song, either with Hipster or alone, and there’s a video of David and me singing it at a Sunday brunch in The Clubhouse late last year. But as of this week we finally have a proper, radio-ready version, with David on lead vocals, me on harmonies and (somewhere deep down in the mix) acoustic guitar, plus Gavin and Scott backing us up on a mini-orchestra of other instruments. They did a really great job on arranging and producing it. We have a 3’30” track that, in my opinion, really captures the kind of spirit we were going for. We’re not ready yet to release it to the world. We need to finalise the gameplan in terms of publishing, promotion, etc. But watch this space…

This is not about David or me trying to get our big break as performers. What we’re hoping is that by having this good quality recording and putting a bit of effort into promotion, it just might be heard by some artist, publisher, agent or manager who’s looking for a new Christmas song to record. But even if nothing more comes of it, we have a track we can be proud of and fun memories of recording it.

Perfect Session 5

That’s Scott Halliday at the desk with Gavin Glass adding a guitar track.

Perfect Session 3

David did a super job on the lead vocals.

Perfect Session 21

In Gavin and Scott we had a couple of really good producers. It was really interesting to work through the song with them and make something as good as possible. Our demo arrangements were always quite long, but with Gav’s help we managed to squeeze the whole thing into a 3’30” package without dropping any of our favourite bits.

Perfect Session 1

The studio looked great – in fact they had only just finished moving into their new premises the night before.

Perfect Session 25

I played the basic acoustic guitar track, but I’m not sure we ended up using it at the end. With Gav’s much more polished skills available there was no need.

Perfect Session 15

Indeed. We couldn’t resist.

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UPDATE: Follow our progress on www.facebook.com/mulledband