Rodney Crowell’s first ever Christmas album, Christmas Everywhere, was released earlier this month via New West Records.
The 12-song set of all original songs was produced by Dan Knobler and features guest appearances from Vince Gill, Lera Lynn, the poet Mary Karr, Brennen Leigh, and more.
Christmas Everywhere exhibits a unique and masterful approach to the traditional Christmas album from the legendary songwriter. While many selections exhibit the joy of the season, the collection also explores crass commercialization & loneliness exacerbated by the holidays, as well as songs co-written with his daughters and granddaughters.
Crowell has read Clement Clarke Moore’s legendary “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas” to his children, and now grandchildren, on Christmas Eve for the past forty one years. A masterful storyteller himself, Christmas Everywhere commences with the lyrical prelude “Clement’s Lament (We’ll See You In The Mall),” which sets the tone for the album with “Peace, peace, peace on earth, good will to one and all. The season starts in August now, we’ll see you in the mall.” The title track, a duet with Lera Lynn, includes a dream sequence in which she asks Santa for a time machine in which to go back and prevent John Lennon’s murder,” and the closing track, the endearing “All For Little Girls and Boys” was recorded in the early 80s and features his two oldest daughters.
In celebration of Christmas Everywhere, Crowell will support Amy Grant & Vince Gill’s unprecedented twelve-night “Christmas at the Ryman” stand beginning tomorrow night in Nashville, TN. He has also announced additional tour dates throughout the Spring of next year (please see all dates below).
Of the album, Crowell says, “Since the arrival of my first child, the Crowell family has detonated forty-one Christmas bombs, discarding in that time-span enough wrapping-paper to be held accountable for the deforestation of, I’m guessing here, twenty-plus acres of prime timberland. In defense of our participation in the commercialization of baby Jesus’s birth, the best I can offer is the fact that for the last two decades we’ve conscientiously recycled the aftermath. A few years back it became evident to my family, and indeed myself, that I’d gone sour on all things related to Christmas, a source of particular disappointment to my wife, Claudia, whose creative flair peaked with the holidays. One rather warm December day in 2011, I heard on satellite radio, Hayes Carll’s soulfully written ‘Grateful for Christmas’ and was so moved by the song—it’s wry humor and bare-bones honesty—that I ditched whichever errand or appointment I’d set out on in favor of an honest-to-God Christmas shopping spree. Not only did ‘Grateful for Christmas’ jolt me out of a self-indulgent funk, it also tweaked my creative curiosity. I began mulling over the idea of writing an album’s worth of original Christmas songs. As far back as the early eighties, for fun and without bothering to put words down on paper, I’d made up with my two oldest daughters, Hannah and Caitlin, silly little Christmas songs that we’d sing around the house. ‘All For Little Girls and Boys’ is one of those tunes that somehow made it onto a cassette tape. Around the same time, in a proper studio, I recorded with my kids a carefree piece I’d written called ‘Very Merry Christmas,’ which, in lieu of Christmas cards, we sent out that year on cassette tape as well. Sometime around Christmas 2016, I came home to find my granddaughters, Addie and Iris—age ten and eight— sitting side-by-side and playing on our old upright piano a melody that to my ear sounded like something from the early nineteenth century. I asked them what song they were playing and in unison they replied, ‘something we just made up.’ I hit record on my iPhone and asked them to play it again. Using their melody almost entirely, I spent a couple of months composing the words to ‘Come Christmas.’ A generation had passed since I first made up a Christmas song with their mother.”
Fifty years after Crowell first started playing as a teen in Houston garage bands, he has moved into elder-statesman territory, and continues to extend the path carved out by the top-tier songwriters who preceded him. His songs have been recorded by country legends (Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, George Strait), to current country chart toppers (Tim McGraw, Keith Urban) to blues icons (Etta James) to rock and roll legends (Van Morrison, Bob Seger). He is a Grammy award winner, a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, recipient of the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting from the Americana Music Association, and the author of his autobiography, the stunning Chinaberry Sidewalks.