The Stories Behind The Songs
1. Nothing But Christmas (written by Don Breithaupt and Lorraine Lawson)
I’ve known Don for years, through Monkey House and as a sideman, songwriter and solo performer. When I asked him to be a part of this project he submitted this song for consideration. I loved it and I loved the way Lorraine sang it. The problem was - our voices are very different stylistically and I sing in a much lower key. So when I tried to sing it like her demo, I was not feeling it all (neither was anyone who heard it). I almost dropped it from the record even though I didn’t want to because i
t is such a great song. That’s when Davor sprinkled his magic producer dust. He lowered the key, slowed down the tempo, added stand-up bass and brushes and suddenly the song had a completely different vibe ... a "Vickie-vibe". And once Steve Manning added that jazz guitar ... heaven. It sets the tone for the album ... when Nothing But Christmas will do ...
2. Christmas In My Dreams (written by Vickie van Dyke and Chris Smith)
Chris was one of the first guys I asked to contribute and I initially thought we would do a fun version of "Baby It’s Cold Outside". He agreed and then, a few weeks later said "Why don’t you write some new lyrics and let me set them to music?" Sounded like a good idea (who wouldn’t want to write with Chris Smith?) except I had already written ten Christmas songs and I was pretty sure I didn’t have another original Christmas thought in my head. Turns out I did, once I started to think like Chris (the boy likes to swing!) Instead of Vickie. I wrote all the lyrics on my drive to work one morning, swinging (and singing) like Chris the whole way. When I sent them to him I said "I kinda have a tune in my head ... call me and I’ll sing it to you." He emailed back "Save your tune, Vick ... let me weave my web." He emailed me the demo that evening and the melody that he had written was almost identical to the one that had been in my head. Talk about magic!
3. Main Street Christmas (written by Fred Phillips and Vickie van Dyke)
Fred played me the original version of this song a few years ago. It was uptempo and kinda country ... a bit of a singalong ditty. I immediately fell in love with the idea and the sentiment but decided I wanted it to be more sentimental and nostalgic. So I tweaked the chords and arrangement, added some lyrics and brought in my angelic girls. I truly do love this song ... and the memories it conjures.
4. The Christmas Song (written by Torme and Wells)
Always one of my favorites and one I love to sing live with Jorge and Glen. But when I met Francois (at a joint gig) earlier this year I knew I had to get that boy on this record. With all these seasoned players so graciously volunteering their talents, I wanted to give a young up-and-comer a moment to shine. And shine Francois does. His voice is like rich red velvet ... perfect for Christmas and ... we sing in the same key!
5. All I Want This Christmas (written by Vickie van Dyke and Davor Jordanovski)
When I met Davor through Rob and Carson, I knew that he was a producer and a keyboard player and although I had no need for a producer at that time I needed a keyboard player so I offered him a job. That was last December. He came to my house to work up some songs and when he arrived I said "We’re not going to rehearse, we’re going to write a song" ... and we did. Just like that. In about an hour. It was such an easy, heartfelt and surprising process - for both of us. But that was the moment I knew that this partnership would produce wonderful things. We’ve since written many songs together and I will go on record now and tell you that it was Davor’s faith in this project (and me) which finally compelled me to make it happen.
6. Santa Baby (written by Javits, Springer and Ebb)
Carson Freeman is such a fun player and when we work live together we always have a lot of laughs. I knew this was his
song because it has as much personality as he does. And with the addition of the "Sinclair Sisters" on back-ups it was even more fun. Susan is the best harmony singer I know and she can do all the parts, all the time! I’m honoured to be her honourary sister.
7. Simply Christmas (written by Silvio Pupo Montero, Vickie van Dyke and Alfie Zappacosta)
When Alfie offered to write a song for this CD I was thrilled. When he sent me the music for this song I was even more thrilled. Mostly because the day before, in the studio, I had said to Davor "We need to write one more song. We need a title track " (I had already named the CD). I got this music via email, wrote the lyrics in a few hours and sent them back to Alfie. When he informed me that he actually hadn’t written the music (thank you Silvio!) I replied "Write some lyrics then!". So he did and ... Simply Christmas was born. Simply wonderful.
8. What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve (written by Loesser)
Another favorite at my Christmas gigs and I’ve been doing it for years but Davor got me to sing it a whole new way. Intimate and sexy. Up close and personal. Add Allistair’s sexy horn and this song has "Speakeasy" written all over it. Love it!
9. I Won’t Deck The Halls (written by Vickie van Dyke)
I wrote this song about five years ago, thinking it would be an interesting exercise (as a lyricist) to incorporate as many classic Christmas lines as I could into one song. Trouble is I wrote it slow and sad (I guess that’s how I was feeling). Stan and I demoed it back then and I liked it but for this new project I decided it had to move. No more morose! I absolutely adore it now ... and I adore Stan for finding the groove and making it swing!
10. River (written by Joni Mitchell)
Susan and I have been singing this one together for years so it was our obvious choice for this record. What a delight it was to add her uber-talented beau Mark Willms to the mix, and Claudio’s viola was icing on the cake. When we were divvying up the lyrics, Susan insisted that I sing "I’m so heard to handle, I’m selfish and I’m sad." Not sure if she was trying to tell me something ....
11. Time (written by Vickie van Dyke and Steve Manning)
Another older chestnut that I dug out and decided to revamp. The structure was there (musically and lyrically) but I never liked the feel (it was originally more bluesy-rock). So Steve came over one hot summer night and we played around until we found this new groove. Once Jack laid down his sax we knew we had a winner. Because really, isn’t it "time" that we all want more of?
12. White Christmas (written by Irving Berlin)
I totally adore Gabriel and even though he recorded remotely (in Vancouver) I am so delighted to have him on this CD. This song is such a classic, how could we do a Christmas project without it? Because at least for me, I’m always dreaming of (see next song) ...
13. Waiting For Snow (written by Rob Tardik and Vickie van Dyke)
This song in its original instrumental incarnation is called "Waiting For Rain" and you’ll find it on Rob Tardik’s brilliant CD "The Right Time" (also produced by Davor). One night when I was cooking and running my ipod on shuffle it came on and even though I had heard it many times before I was suddenly struck with the notion that it was a Christmas song waiting to happen. I was remembering a time when I was a young girl and I so desperately wanted a white Christmas, every morning I would run to the window to see if it had snowed overnight. A few days before Christmas, it finally did and I was so very happy. That feeling never leaves, does it? And now, my son is much the same. He loves a white Christmas. And we both ... wait for snow.
14. Baby, It’s Cold Outside (written by Loesser)
Ian and I have jammed before and I am such a big fan. When Chris Smith passed up this song I knew Ian was the right man for the job. I’m a Broadway baby from way back and Ian is so theatrical ... and so much fun, with the big voice to match. I love the dueling saxes with Carson and Carlos!
15. Merry Christmas Darling (written by Carpenter and Pooler)
This was always a favorite of Steve’s and he was the one to say "Vic, you should sing that old Carpenters gem." I couldn’t agree more and when Carson offered to try the flute I thought - why not? Just leave your clarinet at home, buddy ...
16. Christmas In Two Houses (written by Vickie van Dyke and Don Breithaupt)
The first Christmas after his dad and I split up, my son came to me and said "You know Mom, this year I’ll have Christmas in two houses." I knew right away that there was a song in there, and when I started to write the story, it seemed so much like a Disney movie I figured the parents would get back together. But that doesn’t usually happen in real life and so I opted for a hopeful yet realistic song for all the kids who actually have Christmas in two houses. I still have a hard time singing it without crying and I’ve noticed that anyone who has lived it usually cries too. But that’s okay, because ultimately it sends a positive message and I always figured that’s what Christmas is all about - hope.
17. Christmas Through A Child’s Eyes (written by Eder and Wildhorn)
This song was written by fabulous Broadway star Linda Eder and again, if you are a parent (especially a new parent) you will so totally get it. One year when my son was still quite young we were decorating the tree with some newly acquired antique ornaments (gifted to us by my mother). Some of them had belonged to my grandmother and were probably over 75 years old. I was terrified that one might get broken by nervous little hands and sure enough, Sam dropped one and it shattered. I was upset and angry until I saw that Sam was drowning in tears. At that moment I realized how foolish I was being. These were just things. Sentimental, yes, but still ... things. I took Sam into my arms, held him as close as I could and apologized for yelling. Because I realized that his delight in unwrapping those ornaments and placing them on the tree far outweighed my desire to keep them all intact. We continued to unwrap and - lo and behold - discovered another ornament identical to the one which had broken. It was blue, with a frosted white frosty church on it. I swear, there was only one of those when I was growing up because it was my 2nd favorite (my first was a dark pink with a white frosty Santa). And yet, there was another. Sam and I were incredulous. And to this day we both believe in Christmas miracles.
18. Silent Night/Stille Nacht (written by Mohr and Gruber)
I grew up singing German carols, with my mother at the piano, my father on mandolin and my sister by my side. This is for them.
Thanks for reading ... and listening.
I wish you the Merriest Christmas and a bright, hopeful and fulfilling New Year!