We recorded the album Jeannettically Modified Christmas Songs after several years of great Christmas party gigs. Every December we’d hike up to the top of a skyscraper overlooking the financial district in Toronto, swig martinis, wolf down sushi and perform holiday music for some corporate clients. When I told my mother what I was going to call the album, she was quite horrified and asked, why? I was a bit hurt until I realized that the joke, “Jeannettically Modified” meaning modified by me, didn’t translate at all over the phone. I never meant to imply the music wasn’t organic or healthy.
It’s an album of Christmas carols and holiday songs with a few winter-y original tunes mixed in. They may be a little melancholy but they do generally mention snow so it seemed like a nice place to document them. Daydream in the Snow features lyrics that came to me when listening to Reg’s guitar lines fluttering away in the wind. And, well, it’s about snow. The Traveller is another collaboration on one of Reg’s melodies. I have used it as the soundtrack to my short film Bringing Liberation Day Home as the theme of travelling made sense to me in relation to our nomadic family history. Was It Your Song? is a jazz composition that unusually contains both my melody and lyrics, arranged by Michel and Reg, to create a dramatic, sweeping ballad that has not much about Christmas in it at all. But there’s something in it about “the wind swept the leaves, in a quiet breeze” so continuing along with the weather idea, it made it on the album. Because really, does anyone truly care? Does Christmas need to be unrelenting?
The idea of singing Greensleeves and What Child is This? as a kind of loose jazz swing comes from listening to the great recordings of John Coltrane. And I couldn’t decide which lyrics made me the happiest so we ended up with two versions each featuring both sets of lyrics. Looking back now that seems a little scattered but we created this music in a mad flurry after a long drive through snow from Montreal to Toronto, and sometimes there is so much going on that things like keeping all the correct lyrics in all the correct tracks just seem so maddeningly unimportant in the moment. Variety is the spice of life, right? Or perhaps a Gemini-brain just enjoys the symmetry of double lyrics, reversed.