Our Christmas Album is LIVE! Click below to listen:
A Bluer State of Christmas
Ah, 2018 – another year full of disasters and atrocities come and (almost) gone.
Shootings in schools, shootings in synagogues, and shootings in music venues. Migrant children being separated from their mothers. Contentious elections. Disenfranchised voters. White supremacist pipe-bombers. Brett Kavanaugh. Paul Manafort. Michael Cohen. Hurricanes and earthquakes and Paradise on fire (if that isn’t ominous, I’m not sure what is).
“Killers, thieves, and lawyers”… sounds like a Tom Waits song, eh? In fact, it seemed perfectly appropriate to open this album with a tune that could only have been crafted by the stellar imagination of Tom Waits.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
To understand what “A Bluer State of Christmas” is all about, perhaps it would help to understand a little about the origin of the theme. “A Blue State of Christmas” was born when the Hoover Dam Collective’s show of sad Christmas songs took a political turn in the wake of the 2016 election. Then came “A Blue State of Christmas” the album, which we recorded last fall and released in time for Christmas 2017.
The basic premise of most winter holidays, regardless of culture or religion, is the instinctual search for light and warmth during the coldest, darkest time of the year. But somehow over the years Christmas has had some different connotations slapped on top of it. Materialism. Greed. Intolerance.
The holidays encourage us to celebrate the people around us and to be joyful and revelrous. December can also be the loneliest time of year, because it forces us to notice what we are lacking. Each holiday season is a point of reference to look back on holidays past and reflect on which pieces are missing. And for many of us, it’s the idea that we SHOULD be feeling happy and joyous that makes it all the more difficult.
Sometimes we look at the news and it feels as though we are catapulting towards a quick impending apocalypse. And sometimes something as simple as a loved one leaving in the night with nothing but a hand-written note feels like an apocalypse inside of the unique, singular universe of our own life.
A Bluer State of Christmas is many things at once. It’s engaging and chuckle-worthly, like Andy Roninson’s cover of “Christmas Card From A Hooker in Minneapolis.” It’s dreary and devastating, like Bears of Alaska’s cover of Rodriguez’s “Cause.” It’s frighteningly potent and a little too real, like Alex Mackinnon’s “Christmas in Palestine.” It’s clever and poignant, like “Blind Mute Torso of Love.” It is a calling to action and a coming together. It’s a reminder that we are greater than the sum of our parts.
It feels like a bit of a social stigma to talk about loss, to share our feelings of despair, emptiness. But just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean that we are always going to feel joyous. The sun goes down at 430pm. Innocent people are being shot by the police, while most of the worst criminals in this country will never pay for the crimes they’ve committed. The basic premise of this album is the idea that maybe we can come together in sadness and struggle in the same way that we come together in joy and celebration. One of the greatest antidotes to sadness is playing music together, which is really what this is all about.
Click HERE to check out the album.