Brandon Heath Declares Christmas Is Here... Almost
By Hannah Goodwyn
Don't deck the halls with the tinsel or the holly
You can make me grumpy but you can't make me jolly
Elves don't even make curly haired dollies
Till the day after Thanksgiving
Reading these lyrics from Brandon Heath’s new song, “The Day After Thanksgiving”, should give you an idea of the Christian singer’s stance on decking the halls too early. Heath goes beyond the song’s playful argument for waiting to get into the Christmas spirit and gives fans a fun mixture of holiday tunes and God-glorifying melodies on Christmas Is Here.
Recently, the Nashville-based singer/songwriter spoke with CBN.com about why he’s against bypassing Thanksgiving, his favorite childhood Christmas gift and the stories behind some of the original songs on Christmas Is Here. Here are excerpts from that conversation:
Hannah Goodwyn: What irks you so much about celebrating Christmas early?
Brandon Heath: It’s so consumer-driven now. The reason that it’s earlier every year, I think, is because stores want people buying sooner and more. I just think it’s ruining it. I like little moments. Christmas for three months, it’s just too long, in my opinion. I like Christmas for a month. It is my favorite time of the year. I can’t wait, but I can wait. I wait ‘til the day after Thanksgiving because I like Thanksgiving. I’m a little legalistic, maybe, but there’s a time and a place for everything. It’s special and I want to save it.
Goodwyn: In the past, you’ve said that good Christmas music is about sparking memories. What’s your favorite Christmas memory?
Heath: My favorite Christmas memory was probably that year that I got my guitar for Christmas. I got a guitar from my mom. I was sitting in the living room of my stepmom’s family. I’m in my boxers and my night shirt, and I’m just making up chords, and everybody just sat around, listened. I remember even kind of drooling on the guitar. I was concentrating so heavily. You just forget all of your other bodily functions and you’re concentrating so heavily. That will always stick out as one of the most special Christmases.
Goodwyn: Were you ever apart of a Christmas play or nativity?
Heath: Mm-hmm. I was in a Christmas play in high school called “The Gifts of the Magi.” I played a guy who sold his watch for a gift for his wife. [In the play,] his wife sold her hair for a gift for him. Her hair was her most beloved possession, and his watch was his most beloved possession [which he sold for her gift, a hairpin]. Yeah, I really loved that play, being in it. It really talks about the spirit of Christmas. That was way back in high school.
Goodwyn: Do you have a favorite Christmas tradition?
Heath: You know, really the only thing that always happens every year is I watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade with my mom when she’s making food on Thanksgiving morning. That’s kind of the only thing that’s stood the test of time in my family. But it’s still a pretty sweet moment for both of us. We always get our eggnog out, then we clink glasses and say, “Merry Christmas.” That’s how we know that Christmas has started.
Goodwyn: Tell me about the big ‘betrayal’ that spawned your new original Christmas song, “Momma Wouldn’t Lie to Me.”
Heath: Yeah. I really wanted there to be a song about Santa Claus on this record, and I really wanted to be playful with it. I didn’t give away any secrets or surprises, but I wanted to talk about being a kid and believing in Santa, I mean, it’s just fun. I had fun with it when I was a kid. Someday when I do have kids, I think I’ll still celebrate Santa because I think it’s fun. But that’s what I wrote about. And it really did kind of happen to me when I went to school as a kid. There were other kids that didn’t believe and I still did, and so that’s what I wanted to capture and write about.
Goodwyn: There’s an innocent faith to that, kids believing in Santa Claus and what he stands for.
Heath: Yeah, there is an innocence to it. As we grow older, we realize that Christmas is not about gifts. I love parents who always have their kids give away something every Christmas. One year, I went with a family and we played this game called ‘Ding Dong Ditch’. You give a stranger a bunch of gifts. You go to their door and you ring their doorbell, and you run. They never know that it was you. I just think that’s wonderful. I want to do stuff like that. I want to create moments like that with my family. So, the gift giving and receiving becomes something else. It becomes more of a joyful thing to exercise and then receive.
Goodwyn: “Go Tell It On the Mountain” proclaims Jesus as the reason for the season. Why was it important for you to do a rendition of that one for Christmas Is Here?
Heath: Oh, yeah. “Go Tell It” actually was written here in Nashville, and that’s a big reason why I wanted to record it. It was written for a black university here called Fisk University. Back in the day, they had a choir called the Fisk Jubilee Singers (and they still do), but the Fisk Jubilee Singers became famous all around the world for singing spirituals. It was actually what raised money for their school here in Nashville; it was like their major fundraising effort. And so, their director wrote that song as a spiritual for them to sing. I’ve always loved that song, but I think it was appropriate to do on this because it was written here in Nashville and I have a lot of love for my hometown. I also wanted it to sound like bluegrass. I’m a big bluegrass fan, so I have a couple of songs that are kind of bluegrass-y on this record.
Goodwyn: Your song “Just a Girl” plays from the perspective of the inn keeper in Bethlehem. What does his view, his reaction to Mary and Joseph say to you?
Heath: I’m really convicted when I think about him because it reminds me of me. If I had a really nice hotel and a couple of kids showed up at my door, and one’s in labor, well, honestly, I’d probably let them in, but I think that inn keeper was just thinking about how it was going to inconvenience him. We never really know if the inn was actually full or not or if he just said that it was. But the reality is he turned them away, and the other reality is that we can always find room. Even if it was full, we can always find room to help someone. So, I really think about that a lot, and the inn keeper, and how often has God given me these opportunities to say, ‘Yes’. A lot of times, we don’t know how profound of an opportunity it would be to say, ‘Yes’. So, the inn keeper obviously didn’t know, but I kind of wanted him to regret not being a part of it, not helping Mary and Joseph in their time of need. So yeah, that’s really the thought behind that song. It’s definitely my favorite on the whole record.
Hannah Goodwyn serves as the Family and Entertainment producer for CBN.com. For more articles, visit Hannah's bio page.
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