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Shepherds in the Parking Lot and a Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis

Song Premiere

Ah, it’s the time of year when images of smiling, jolly elves, compliant reindeer, sparkling lights and glittering bells, and flames leaping from crackling logs in the fireplace decorate our neighbors’ homes and store shelves. As one oft-sung Christmas song tells us “it’s the hap, hap, happiest time of the year.” In our heart of hearts, though, we know Lucy had it exactly right in her words from A Charlie Brown Christmas: “we all know Christmas is run by a big syndicate out East.” For those caught up in the wiles of the commercial glitter of the holidays, spending and getting apparently brings joy and wards off the darkness of the season. But if we look carefully look just past the branches of those trees crowding each other in the Christmas tree lots, we’re bound to see those for whom the holidays aren’t so joyous and filled with light: here’s the prostitute spending the holidays in jail; the truck driver whose holiday family are others in the truck stop; the child who pleads for its daddy not to get drunk on Christmas.

 

Michael Cerveris (two-time Tony Award winner and star of TV's The Tick and Gotham) and Kimberly Kaye and their band Loose Cattle remind us of this darker side of the holidays in the appropriately titled album Seasonal Affective Disorder. Their version of the Tom Waits’ holiday classic “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis” is a sparse blues number made more somber by the mournful violin weaving under and around a similarly sorrowful piano and Kaye’s languorous vocals.

 

According to Ceveris, “This song might not be everybody's idea of a holiday classic, but in the Loose Cattle world, it just isn't Christmas without Tom Waits. Or maybe hookers. So having both in one song made it a shoo-in for the record. Even though it only has the word Christmas in the title, the whole mix of heart-on-your-sleeve sentimentality, combined with bleak reality, fits the tone of our record perfectly. Kim and I love singing harmony together, but I asked her to sing this one herself, so it would come more directly from a woman's perspective. Also, we all love every chance we get just to play and listen to her sing. Then we asked our friend Tom McDermott who is one of New Orleans' most celebrated and beloved piano players (and that's saying a lot in that city) to accompany her. He came up with the idea of making it a swaying gospel march, and the two of them recorded it live in the studio together in just a few takes. We added Justin's fiddle to help it sit in with the other songs on the record and once we heard that back, it didn't seem to need anything else. Well, just some sleigh bells at the beginning and end. Cause, you know...Christmas”

https://soundcloud.com/loosecattle/christmas-card-from-a-hooker-in-minneapolis

 

 

Another winner Henry. First saw Ceveris when he played Booth in Assassins. Been a fan ever since. And I've seen his band.

Neko Case also does a lovely cover

I have to get this one Henry...suits my take on Xmas as well...Amos' is correct that Ceveris was an excellent Booth...I directed "Assassins" several years ago for a local company and viewed several video clips...

Over the Rhine has a Christmas record called "The Darkest Night of the Year"...one favorite story they tell in concert is about Byron House, who has played bass with them on and off over the years, live and studio...Byron played the record during the holiday season for his kids and after hearing it, one of his kids said, "Daddy, do your friends like Christmas?"  

Love Christmas records that capture both the joy and accompanying misery  and commercialization of the season...And it really isn't Christmas without Tom Waits...