A few years ago my family and I experienced a tragedy on Christmas Day that I thought we’d never get over. I vowed to never celebrate the holiday again. I never wanted to see another decoration as long as I lived. This was a hard decision for me, especially since I have always adored decorating for the holidays, but it was much too painful. Over the years I’ve grieved, and I’ve grown stronger. It’s helped me see that you can get through heartache, that loss is sadly a part of life. Christmas is now different. I allow myself to cry, I allow myself to feel hurt, but I also allow myself to feel joy. If you feel this way, know that you’re not alone. In fact, there’s an amazing new album called Twelve Tales of Christmas by Tom Chaplin that is just what you need.
This week I had a chance to interview Tom Chaplin about his new Christmas album called “Twelve Tales of Christmas”. He wrote eight original songs for the album, and he included four classics including Joni Mitchell’s hit song “River”. One of the original songs “Midnight Mass” is based on a true story about an elderly gentleman who was a dog trainer. The man didn’t have family; his community was his family. Sadly he passed away, but the beauty of the story is they all gathered around to pay tribute to him at midnight mass. The song made you realize that while life can be tragic, it’s important to surround yourself with those you love and love you.
Please be sure to watch the video below to see my interview with Tom Chaplin in its entirety. I transcribed it for you as well! The interview is 12 minutes long, and is definitely one of my favorites of all time. Take care of yourself this holiday season! For more information please visit: TomChaplinMusic.com. ‘Twelve Tales of Christmas’ is available at your favorite store nationwide. PS: I highly suggest visiting Amazon as they give you a chance to listen to samples of all the songs!
Watch Candace Rose Anderson interview Tom Chaplin (of Keane fame) about his phenomenal new album “Twelve Tales of Christmas.”
Candace Rose Anderson Interviews Musician Tom Chaplin On His New Album Twelve Tales of Christmas
Candace Rose Anderson: Can you tell us about your new album “Twelve Tales Of Christmas?”
Tom Chaplin: “Twelve Tales of Christmas, it’s a mixture of original songs and covers. There are eight original songs and four covers. I chose four fairly classic songs. I think in the States you would probably know Joni Mitchell’s ‘River.’ There’s a Pretenders song – ‘2000 Miles.’ There’s a uniquely British Christmas song called ‘Walking In The Air’, and one called ‘Stay Another Day.’
I think with all of those, there’s a bittersweetness and maybe a bit of a darkness to them that I really liked and felt like might fit with the eight original songs that I had written (on the album which explore all manner of different things). As I say, it’s a bittersweet kind of a record. There is hope and joy, but there is also despair and sadness. All of the things that most of us get from everyday experience of life, possibly particularly at Christmas when emotions can be very concentrated in a family space. I hope it’s a record that’s got something for everyone.”
Candace Rose Anderson: As you mentioned, you wrote eight original songs for the album. What was the inspiration behind it?
Tom Chaplin: “I really had fairly low expectations about how many Christmas songs I’d be able to write because I sort of thought to myself ‘it’s probably quite hard to write something that feels original for Christmas.’ But actually, I found the quite opposite to be true. I found it was quite helpful to have the language of Christmas and be able to draw on that, and use Christmas as a kind of a backdrop to write my own personal perception of what we experience.
There ended up being songs about reflecting on the state of the world, and songs about love, and songs about loss. I really actually found the writing process very productive and really enjoyable even though I was doing it in the middle of the summer, which was an odd time to be writing Christmas songs.”
Candace Rose Anderson: Midnight Mass is such a beautiful, meaningful song. I watched the video and it brought me to tears. Can you tell us about the song and why it’s beloved by so many people this holiday season?
Tom Chaplin: “Well, it’s a song that’s really my attempt at writing a kind of modern day Christmas carol. It’s a song that has the language of an old fashioned Christmas carol, and musically the way that the chords move, it feels hymnal. It’s about modern life. It’s about life is pretty tough, we’re all kind of swept up in the endless pursuit of our goals and work, and how Christmas is this one time of the year where you get a break from all of that. We come together in the spirit of love and community. I wanted to explore all that with the song. There’s that and that’s what the song is about, and then there’s the video which is whole other story.
It’s based on a true story of a guy who ran a dog club in London. He was an old guy and when he passed away, he had no close family or friends left, except for the people that attended his dog club and their faithful friends. They all turn up to his memorial service. Really, we just recreated that story for the video and it somehow felt like it chimed very well with the sentiment of the song, even though it’s an abstract idea. Who doesn’t want dogs and children for a Christmas video, right?”
Please watch the video “Midnight Mass.”
Candace Rose Anderson: Another song that is really touching and I know is going to help a lot of people is “We Remember You This Christmas.” Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Tom Chaplin: “Like I described, the album has a melancholy and a bittersweetness to it. I think I wanted to portray Christmas as it really is, which is not necessarily just a kind of sentimentalized snowy fairytale. It can be that but I think for a lot of us, it can actually be a time when we reflect and we remember the people that we’ve lost along the way.
I certainly think as you get older you’re obviously more likely to have people pass away in your life. Particularly Christmas time you may focus and think about an empty chair around the Christmas lunch table; the person that’s no longer there.
The song is about exploring that, about remembering people. But I also think remembering them in the right way. Christmas should still be a time of celebration, even if it does bring up those unhappy feelings or sad feelings. The song is about saying yes, let’s acknowledge those people but let’s do it by raising a glass and remembering them fondly. And also remembering how that can focus us to try and live our lives to the fullest, to seize the day and realize we’re all going to go that way at some point, so we might as well just live with good grace and live life with as much vitality as we can.
Like many of the songs on the album, it has a bittersweetness to it; sadness but also hope.”
Candace Rose Anderson: You also included hit songs by Joni Mitchell, The Pretenders and a few others. How did you choose which songs to include on the album “Twelve Tales of Christmas?
Tom Chaplin: “Well, I wanted to find songs that would fit with the originals. There were more originals than I ever intended to have. I seemed to write more songs than I expected. It was about finding songs that would fit around those.
The Joni Mitchell song ‘River’ and The Pretenders song ‘2000 Miles’, again they’re pretty sad songs -particularly the Joni Mitchell one. It’s such a beautiful lyric and beautiful melody. I felt in some ways it would sit quite naturally with the rest of the songs on my record (and probably show them up a bit for what they are)! That’s the reason I chose that one.
The two very sort of uniquely British cover songs (you may not know them in America), but there’s ‘Stay Another Day’ and ‘Walking In The Air.’ Those are very much integral parts of a British Christmas. The original versions of those songs are very definitive and I wanted to do something that would bring out the darkness in them and give myself a real challenge. Particularly ‘Walking In The Air’ (which is actually the opening song on the album) was a really proud moment. It’s a song that’s synonymous with a little choir boy singing it for an animation called ‘The Snowman.’ To try and reinvent it and do it in a way that’s never been done before was an exciting challenge, and I think we pulled it off. That one above all the other covers was the biggest success.”
Candace Rose Anderson: Do you have a personal favorite on “Twelve Tales Of Christmas?”
Tom Chaplin: “I feel like ‘Midnight Mass’ is probably one of the best songs that I’ve written. It’s hard to choose. I’ve got lots of favorites. There’s a song called ‘Another Lonely Christmas’ – it’s interesting, when you release a record it’s not always the song you expect people to kind of latch onto that they do actually end up latching onto. ‘Another Lonely Christmas’ seems to be really popular with the fans. It’s quite a sad song but it’s got a Beatlesy melody and production. That one has been a pleasant surprise.
It’s hard to pick favorites. I feel pretty proud of the record as a whole. There’s something there for all moods and for everyone, at least that’s what I’m saying. I want people to buy this record and enjoy it. I really feel very proud of it, so I would encourage people to go out there and do that!”
Candace Rose Anderson: Where can we go for more information and to purchase “Twelve Tales Of Christmas?”
Tom Chaplin: “My website is TomChaplinMusic.com, but the album is available (it’s being released through Interscope Records in the United States). It’s available through all the streaming services, on Amazon, on iTunes and all the regular places that you would find it. Go and check it out, I hope that it’s kind of an alternative but lovely accompaniment to Christmas this year.”