Category: Christmas

Interview: Singer-songwriter Elizabeth Chan discusses her beautiful holiday album, ‘Best Gift Ever’

With a specialty in Christmas music, singer-songwriter Elizabeth Chan’s passion for the holiday has driven her to a career that’s unique from other recording artists. Case in point, her new album, Best Gift Ever, which is sure to become a soundtrack of the season.

Led by the infectiousness of the album’s title-track and Chan’s original renditions of such classics as “O Holy Night,” “The First Noelle” (aptly re-named in honor of her daughter), and the unearthed classic, “For Unto Us,” Best Gift Ever gives listeners a refreshing mix of tradition and universal acceptance.

In addition to the new album, Chan is also lending her voice to various charities and radio shows across the country. For her, it’s an honor to not only share her music with the world, but also to give back for the greater good.

AXS recently spoke with Elizabeth Chan about Best Gift Ever and more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: What inspired you to take on a career as a Christmas songwriter and producer?

Elizabeth Chan: I’ve always wanted to write Christmas music from a very young age. When I was growing up, there was a radio station in New York City that went all Christmas every year, and I remember whenever the station would turn me and my sister would leave the radio on twenty-four hours a day. It wasn’t something I knew I could make a career out of until after I already had another career. I always knew I wanted to be a musician, but eventually chose a different path. Then about eight years ago, I had what I guess you’d call a quarter-life crisis. I thought, either I could keep working at the career I was at or do something that makes me happy. I think people are given one shot to do something with their life, and for me, it was music. I thought back to the one time in my life when I was truly happy, and that was when I listening to Christmas music and writing poems. I decided to give myself a shot, and here I am.

AXS: What’s your writing process like?

EC: I’m highly inspired by my family but also approach songwriting like a muscle you flex. I write Christmas music all year long. In the beginning, I’d force myself to write at least one Christmas song every day. Most of them were bad but I quickly amassed a vault of Christmas music. I now have my own sifting method where I’ll wait and see if I can recall a melody and lyrics of a song I wrote several years later. That’s how I know it has a classic, timelessness to it.

AXS: Let’s discuss a few original tracks from Best Gift Ever, starting with the title track. What’s the story behind it?

EC: My husband is the most-simple, happiest guy on the planet who never wants anything for his birthday, anniversary or Christmas. I’m always prodding him by asking, “What do you want? What do you want? What do you want” [laughs]. The bridge is always his answer: “Don’t worry about me. I have everything I want.” It’s also a universal theme with people. Every year, there’s always that sense of hey, what do you want this year? It was a good opportunity to write a song about the way everyone feels.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Elizabeth Chan by Clicking Here!

A Letter To Santa

Dear Santa,

HI! It’s me… Jimmy Wood. I’m pretty sure you remember me. I was the kid who used to ask you for the Star Wars Millennium Falcon back in the mid 70’s. I remember writing you every day about it, asking for you to please, PLEASE bring one for me.

I was going to be the talk of the neighborhood ‘cus only the rich kid across the street had one. I even held out hope until the very last-minute. You must have been busy that year though ‘cus all I got were some crummy socks. Anyways, hope you had a good Thanksgiving!

It’s been a while since I’ve written. The truth is, a lot of my friends have told me that you weren’t real and so I stopped writing. You know, peer pressure and all.

Anyways, I’ve been a super good boy all year (well, unless you count that one bad website I visited – but I SWEAR it was an accident!). Anyways, I thought it would be a good time to send you an updated list of things I still want. Things that will make me feel happy during my middle age. Don’t worry, I won’t ask you for things like a Seattle Seahawks Superbowl victory or World Peace or anything like that. Heck, even I know there are some things that even Santa can’t do.

To help your elves with the construction of these items (of which you’ll be happy to know there are only three) I’ve enclosed a few pictures as well. If you have any questions, just let me know!:

Poison Pinto: This was the one car my lousy cousin always had. He’d never trade me for it either. I’m hoping you can give me one. Ps. Since you see everything with your magic crystal snowball, please don’t tell him about the time I took a hammer to his Pinto when he wasn’t looking.

Spiderman: Me and Spidey go WAY back! Here’s a picture of the two of us from a Christmas a long time ago. He went off to fight crime one day and never came back. Mom says I left him at a family picnic one summer at the lake, but I don’t believe her. If you could reunite us, that would be super awesome!

Finally, in keeping with the car theme this last item would help me get around town in style. I know this one is a tall order but it sure would make me happy.

1965 Mustang Shelby GT-350: A real one please. Not the fake toy ones my family and friends like to give me as a joke every year. Funny, they’ll give me a Hot Wheels Mustang but not the Poison Pinto.

Thanks so much Santa. I really hope you and Mrs. C have a wonderful Christmas. Oooh, and if you still have my Millennium Falcon in your sack of toys, I’ll take that too!

Your Friend,

Five Things I Think: The Best Christmas Songs of All Time

Yesterday I wrote about the over saturation of Christmas music being played non-stop on my local radio station. And although they have tried their best to ruin songs that I’ve grown up with and adore they haven’t succeeded.

There are certain songs played only this time of year that not only remind me about the true meaning of the holiday but also conjure up memories of family and Christmases long gone by. After all, there really is no place like home for the holidays.

The list of songs I’ve compiled here all have one thing in common: visual imagery. When ever I hear these songs (done well of course) I find myself being caught up “in” the story of the song.  So with this in mind you’ll see that none of these songs contain barking dogs, Christmas donkeys or Grandmas getting run over. Yes, songs like that are cute but they aren’t even in the same league as the ones below.

Although I don’t ever recall toasting marshmallows this time of year or telling tales of glory or ghosts (although there was that one time I saved the cat that was stuck out on the roof) these songs forever hold a special place in my heart. Let’s see if you agree.

My Favorite Christmas songs of all time:

5. Christmas Time Is Here(1965): It’s got to be the version by Vince Guaraldi for The Charlie Brown Christmas Special. No other song sets the mood for Christmas more for me than this. When I hear this song I immediately conjure up memories of Snoopy and all the children skating on the ice as the snow softly falls. For a short while I’m a child again sitting in the parlor with my grandparents watching the show underneath a lighted Christmas tree and all is well with the world.

4. Happy Christmas (War is Over) – (1971): I’ve always been a big fan of John Lennon. But in all of the songs he’s written nothing (well except for maybe Imagine) makes you think more than this one does. From the very first line it immediately asks the question:

“So this is Christmas, and what have you done?

And I think, what have I done? What have we all done to make this a better world? It can happen….if we only want it to. So why haven’t we?

3. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (1944): Initially written to coincide with a scene in the Judy Garland movie Meet Me In St. Louis, I can only imagine what it must have been like to have watched this movie in the theater and heard that song for the very first time. This song also brings back warm memories of family for me, most notably the line:

Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow

What a promise of hope. Although families may be apart due to death, distance or war someday, God willing, we will once again all be together.

2. Do You Hear What I Hear – (1962): Believe it or not this song was actually written during the Cuban Missile Crisis. A time when the threat of nuclear war was very real and very near. Although the real meaning of this song dealt with one of the scariest times in our nation’s history when I listen to this song now I immediately become one with the night wind, Sheppard boy and mighty king. In my mind’s eye I see an old kingdom on the first Christmas morning where royal and peasant join in unison in praising the name of the newborn. I see myself high above the tree looking down and taking it all in as the call to pray for peace everywhere is made. Sadly, 50 years since it was written and this same proclamation couldn’t be needed more.

1. Hark The Herald Angels Sing – A carol that actually began in the mid 1700’s and went through several iterations to become what it is today. This song is my all time favorite for several reasons but mostly because of just one line that pretty much sums up the entire holiday for me:

Peace on Earth and Mercy Mild, God and Sinners reconciled.

So tell me, what are some of your favorite songs of Christmas?

How The Radio Ruined Christmas

All of the shopping, tree trimming, wrapping of presents and church activities will soon be over. Just a few more days and Christmas will be here. The hustle and bustle we’ve all been consumed by while waiting for the birth of the Christ Child or the fat man in a red suit to arrive will soon reach its peak.

I must admit that I always used to be a bit saddened once the festivities were over. Even after every last one was accounted for, I still found myself looking around for that one stray present with my name on it that requires unwrapping.

Conversely, one thing I definitely will NOT miss when the holiday is over is the local radio station playing non-stop Christmas music. What started out as perhaps the coolest thing ever has gotten way out of hand.

It all started years ago when our local FM station decided to give the Lehigh Valley a present and play nothing but holiday songs on Christmas day. I always looked forward to the Christmas morning tradition of brewing a huge cup of coffee, grabbing garbage bags to house shredded wrappings in and turning on the radio to hear Andy Williams belt out a carol or two or ten. Songs that I hadn’t heard since I was a wee boy traveling to Grandma’s house in the back of my parents beat up Chevelle were now blaring once again through the speakers. Life was good.

Then someone decided to make the most of a good thing. Soon the radio station bumped the 24/7 Christmas extravaganza to include Christmas eve beginning around 6PM, which at the time I thought made a nice prelude to the holiday magic and celebrations.

I began to become a bit concerned the following year when the suits at the radio station decided to start playing the Christmas songs at the start of the shopping season. Much to my chagrin Black Friday soon became the starting point for decking the halls. There seemed to be nothing to look forward to as far as music was concerned.

Flash forward to today and it’s really gotten sickening.

The local station here decided to start playing their annual CHRISTMAS MUSIC 24 hours a day, seven days a week starting November 1st. That’s right, the day after HALLOWEEN! The day you start recovering from binging on your kid’s Snickers and Milky Way mini-bars and for the next FIFTY-FOUR days is a row you get plenty of Andy, The Carpenters, Mariah Carey and the Chipmunks. Punishment that would only put a smile on the face of the Grinch. I swear, if I have to listen to Mariah Carey sing “All I Want For Christmas is You” one more time I’m going to drop a fruit cake on my head and end it all.

What’s supposed to put you in a cheery holiday mood only gives me a big ol’ case of the bah-humbugs.

December 26th can’t get here soon enough.