Liner Notes for the 2015 CD;
It started back in 1977 when I got my first teac four track recorder. I wrote and recorded a demo for 'I Felt This Way All Year'. Everyone seemed to like it and the great feeling of writing a song was something that would stay with me.
In the mid 1980's, while living in New York City, that city Christmas feeling inspired me further so 'Christmas Dreams' and 'I Love You Christmas Day' were written and demo-ed . My friend and band mate John DiPinto played piano, and I sang. Also we re recorded 'I Felt This Way' with John on piano and strings, myself on guitar and my wife Sue (who was a NY actress and fabulous singer) doing the vocal. That recording was pressed onto a 45 vinyl record.
Fast forward to the year 2000. I was teaching in public school and had the idea to do a Christmas song for the kids in the holiday concert. This was 'The Child Is Christmas'. The reaction to the song was great and I decided to have my then 11 year old daughter Marialena record it. It was obvious by that point that Marialena could really sing, and I can still today feel the goosebumps from that recording session. The song came alive. (Track 8)
A year later I decided to re record 'I Felt This Way All Year' (Track 11), with Sue and Marialena sharing verses.
A few years go by, then in December of 2005, while on tour with 'The Boy Friend' in Costa Mesa CA, the idea for a song called Christmas Piece by Piece comes as a nice idea for my youngest daughter Annaliese. The only reason for the title, I think, was that it rhymed with her name, but the idea is tucked away and not acted upon. Also at this time, in reaction to my father's passing, I write and record Exactly Like A Kid. (Track 4)
In the fall of 2006, I began writing again. The first to come out of that time was a gospel feeling song called 'On Christmas Morning' (Track 1). The chant like idea came while running along a leaf filled lake side trail in the beautiful autumn of the Berkshires in Pittsfeild MA where I was playing banjo nightly on stage in 'Mame'. When I returned home from Pittsfield, I got everyone (family) involved in singing different verses and recorded it. I then rekindled 'Piece By Piece' (Track 3), (reminded by Annaliese of her song), figured out a main idea, wrote the lyric and music, and had Annaliese record it, which she was coming out of her skin to do. She was 11 at the time. I kind of like the Beatleness of the bridge .(The Calliope), I was thinking about 'Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite' from The Beatles Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band Album.
In early 2007 the idea for an entire Christmas album came about. I knew it would be a long slog, because I only had 5 songs. Writing a song is a slow process, then there's the arranging, recording and mixing, and I needed 5 more! The first 5 had been the product of many years, but I decided to dig in and try it. So in January and February of '07 I tried but could not muster the feeling I knew I needed . So I let it go and just waited for that spark to call again.
Forward to the summer of 07. I was tinkering with a melody I liked. I usually spend some time each evening with my son in his room before he sleeps, and I noodle on the guitar. It is there 'We're Having Christmas Time' (No War Tomorrow) (Track 6) was born. After about 5 different titles and chorus ideas, the song was recorded by Marialena. I wanted to use sound effects from Bob Hopes' Vietnam Christmas specials, so I ordered those DVD's and used small snippets in the intro and at the end of the bridge. In the fade, I use Walter Cronkite’s' famous commentary on the Vietnam war as a reflection of what was going on in Iraq. The main lyric lines are snippets from traditional Christmas carols, strung together. The musical introduction was inspired by I Am The Walrus from The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour Album. I have posted a video of this song on my YouTube channel; difab4n
So now I have six songs in the can and needed four more, and it's October. The two that were written back in 80's in NY, 'Christmas Dreams' and 'I Love You Christmas Day' (Track 5) just needed to be re recorded. I assigned 'Dreams' to Sue, and I Love You to Marialena, both with simple accompaniment. (actually Marialena insisted on only guitar on 'I Love You' and I obliged, it would be easier for me) As it turned out she delivered a beautiful poignant performance. Sue's deep resonant voice, with John DiPintos' 1983 piano lines (which I transcribed from the original demo), brought out the soul in 'Christmas Dreams'. (Track 9)
So now it's still October and 2 songs away from my goal of ten. While sitting in a plaza in NYC waiting to perform in the pit band at 'Spamalot', I wrote a lyric on the back of my Spamalot music called 'Christmas In Connecticut' and thought it would be a good title song for the album. I continued working on it till Marialena asked; 'does it have to be Connecticut'? Being overly sensitive, I changed it to 'Christmas Time In Our Little Town' (Track 2), which I liked better anyway. When the line 'downtown on the green' came, images from our green and tree lighting in Guilford CT came fast and furious and after one train ride, the lyric and music were written. (I carry a walkman type cassette recorder with me at all time and sing into it). I needed something for the middle, maybe kids playing, or a street scene. I remembered the scene in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ where the kids are sledding. I recorded that off of the TV from the DVD, digitized it, and put it in. Marialena as usual sings it great.
Now I needed one more, but was stuck. And it’s now November. I started and stopped at least 3 songs, 'Here Comes Christmas Again', 'Exactly Like A Kid At Christmas', 'Trying To Write This Christmas Song', and one other I can't remember, all with lyrics written on little bits of paper all over the place. I was just tired of Christmas songs and could not get excited about another angle on it, then... my son Luke says ' how about a song that doesn't have Christmas In the title? Good idea, but what?, well the obvious New Year song. So the first line comes; ‘So what’s the new year about?’. And rest follows fairly quickly within a few days. Lucas and I trade verses on the optimistic 'Happy New Year' (Track 13). Reflecting how I felt then. 'We're starting over now', a new year, new life, new day.
The last track is a reflective look at the kind of disillusionment that I have felt, and maybe others also may feel at this time of year. As I have grown older, and as years and Christmases go by, there may be a certain disappointment that has seeped in. I love Christmas, but was feeling rather melancholy while writing 'Too Much In Christmas' (Track 14)
Three more songs were written and recorded in between 2007 and now;(2015). I Heard The Bells (Track 10) which Luke sings, and 'With A Kiss' (Track 12) which Sue sings so beautifully. And 'I Remember Christmas' (Track 7), which has gone through three major revisions. This recording is a great example of the editing dream that is Digital Performer, as the vocal performance is pieced together from three different versions, the bridge entirely new from the original, and arrangement edits galore.
I hope you enjoy the album.
This album was recorded using MOTU Digital Performer 2.7/2408 interface (yes I know ancient), on a Blue and White Mac G3 computer, (Yes I know again)
Mixing board - Soundcraft LX7/24 input
Monitors -Yamaha NS-10
Outboard compression - dbx 166
Outboard reverb - Lexicon LXP 500
Amp Modeling - Line 6 Pod
Mics - Neumann U48a tube, Shure SM58
Computer Plug Ins, - Waves for compression, reverb, EQ
Mastering Limiter - Waves L1
MOTU plug ins for Chrorus, echo, delay
Guitars - Taylor 712W, Fender fat strat, Ovation 12 string
Yamaha P150 for the pianos and organs
EMU Proteus 1 for pads and other keys
EMU Proteus 2 for strings and orchestral percussion
EMU Procussion for Kick, Snare and Tom fills
Cymbals and Tamborine - real
Thanks to MOTU for the editing dream that is DP
(In 2014 I remastered the songs on Digital Performer 9 using their great MW Leveler plug in)
1. On Christmas Morning
2. Christmas Time In Our Little Town
3. Christmas Piece By Piece
4. Exactly Like A Kid
5. I Love You Christmas Day
6. We're Having Christmas Time (No War Tomorrow)
7. I Remember Christmas
8. The Child Is Chriatmas
9. Christmas Dreams
10. I Heard The Bells
11. I Felt This Way All Year
12. With A Kiss
13. Happy New Yeart
14. Too Much In Christmas
Vocal Performances; Marialena, Lucas, Annaliese, Susan and Nicholas DiFabbio
Instrumental Performance/Recording/Mixing and Mastering;
Music and Lyrics
All Rights Reserved Copyright 2014
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An Album Of Original Christmas Songs