lifeblood: songs: backgrounds: your holiday song


2010-10-07: indigo girls toast to 'happy days' on holiday album, billboard:

janis ian and mary gautier join the indigos for a rendition of woody guthrie's "happy joyous hanukkah," while saliers and emily ray penned three original songs - "the wonder song," "misteltoe" and the buoyant "your holiday song" - for the album.

"we spent a long time listening through christmas songs," saliers says. "our manager gave us a million different christmas songs, hanukkah songs...we went through everything and started out with a bunch of songs we were super, super excited about. singing someone else's songs are easier than recording your own for whatever reason, although there's a lot of self-pressure in that you want to make them your own song."

the indigos recorded "holly happy days" in nashville with producer peter collins and an all-star band - victor krauss on bass, alison brown on banjo, lloyd maines on dobro and pedal steel, luke bulla on fiddle and jim brock on percussion - while good pal brandi carlile sings harmonies on several tracks. "it was maybe the most fun i've ever had making a record," saliers reports, "loving your job and getting excited every morning to get up and go into the studio. it was a joy. and to have those players who are just world-class, incredible, inspiring players, you can't believe the stuff they come up with. it makes you want to never play guitar again." as for the musical approach, she says that "both amy and i love appalachian and bluegrass music, and we just thought it would be so much fun to have it be of that ilk."

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2010-10-07: the indigo girls, play by play:

emily and amy recorded the bulk of this album in nashville with a cadre of world class bluegrass players. it incorporates a broad range of songs, from traditional carols with modern arrangements to original numbers with a very americana feel: conjuring visions of snowy mountain tops, crackling fires and the scent of pine, cinnamon and whiskey in the air. even the packaging is a smart combination of modern holiday design elements in the color block snowflakes, with three currier and ives inspired ornaments, complete with lyrics to three of the original compositions ("mistletoe", "the wonder song", "your holiday song") printed on the back within the fold. this is nostalgia served up fresh, one of the many holiday themes that comes around year after year.

some of the tracks, including, "i feel the christmas spirit" and "the wonder song", are jarringly bluegrass, as it's not a sound expected from this duo. but the players on these tracks bring credibility and skill to this foray. those players include allison brown on banjo, luke bulla on fiddle and mandolin, carol issacs on accordion and lloyd maines on pedal steel. brandi carlile lends her vocals on several tracks, filling out the harmonies into the higher register, as traditional bluegrass vocals dictate that range. the arrangement for "i'll be home for christmas" could have been used in o brother where art thou; it's a very traditional bluegrass vocal styling with julie wolf adding the third voice and a ukulele softly strumming behind them. "it really is (a wonderful life)" and "your holiday song" are a little more to type, but include many interesting musical elements, such as strummed open chord electric guitar lines and very jazz-like percussive elements from jim brock. both are very pleasing, mid-tempo, jangly tracks, smoothed around the edges by the fiddle and mandolin. the ensemble gives us a more uptempo version of "o holy night", with a beautiful counter melody from bulla's fiddle. "mistletoe", a nearly conversational, tender love song is tinged with sadness and regret, and this fits right into the typical style of the indigo girls. "peace child" features a beautiful piano arrangement played by don saliers, emily's father, and "in the bleak midwinter" gives us a lovely verse sung as a round and a gorgeous fiddle exploration of the melody to close it out.

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2010-11-20: indigo girls - your holiday song, music remedy:

last october 12th, 2010 indigo girls released their holiday/christmas album "holly happy days". on the first singles to arrive in stores is "your holiday song" which was recorded in nashville with producer peter collins and an all-star band - victor krauss on bass, alison brown on banjo, lloyd maines on dobro and pedal steel, luke bulla on fiddle and jim brock on percussion.

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2010-11-30: interview: peace and harmonies from indigo girls on holiday debut, wicked local:

if you know anything at all about the indigo girls, you're probably not surprised to hear that their first holiday-themed album, "holly happy days" (vanguard records), doesn't hew to just one holiday.

"i didn't want this to just be an album for christians or people who celebrate christmas," says emily saliers, who makes up half (with amy ray) of the harmonically blessed folk duo that's been recording for more than two decades. "i wanted it to have content to remember how beautiful all the faiths of the world are, and how this particular season is one of hope and celebration."

and the album more than succeeds at its inclusive mission, effortlessly balancing hymns like "o holy night," more secular numbers like "(it really is) a wonderful life," and three stellar originals: "mistletoe" and "the wonder song" by ray, and saliers' "your holiday song," which makes a point of embracing all comers in its message of holiday spirit.

"i wrote it specifically for the album," says saliers. "i thought, wouldn't it be great to have a song that everybody could tap their toes to and feel included in?"

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2010-12-07: indigo girls celebrate new holiday album, long partnership, the atlanta journal-constitution:

hanging out in her manager's atlanta office last week, the low-key saliers, clad in beige cargo pants and a green sweatshirt, thoughtfully discussed the making of the album.

unlike many pop-star seasonal releases, "holly" concentrates on unconventional choices, such as "in the bleak midwinter" - the favorite hymn of both women's mothers - woody guthrie's "happy joyous hanukkah" (featuring janis ian and mary gautier) and chely wright's "it really is (a wonderful life)."

"we knew we wanted to do some originals and a hanukkah song, and my dad brought us 'peace child' and played piano on the track," saliers said.

many of the songs sport a bluegrass feel, in keeping with the girls' rootsy ambitions. "i feel the christmas spirit" dashes along with a sprightly banjo backdrop (provided by alison brown), while ray's "the wonder song" is a happy hootenanny (she also penned "mistletoe" and saliers contributed the mellifluous "your holiday song").

the process of choosing tunes and recording them this summer with producer peter collins and top-drawer musicians, including lloyd maines on dobro and pedal steel guitar and victor krauss on bass, was exceptionally rewarding, saliers said.

"it was such a sweet little studio in nashville, a real home-feeling studio, and it was so inspiring to work with those players."


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