Christmas songs by rock musicians are usually not that interesting to me in that they either are way too cheesy, exceptionally maudlin or don’t really resemble a Christmas song. It was with cautious interest that I listened to Curt Smith’s newest song, “This Is Christmas” and I’ll readily admit that my expectations were automatically low. Here’s something you should know about Curt Smith, he doesn’t create music halfheartedly or on a whim. Each one of his songs is layered musically, lyrically and meaningfully. I highly suspect that he thinks through every single word that goes into his lyrics and there is never anything that is done as filler or to fill time on a track. What do you suppose happens when a talent like that turns there attention to making a Christmas song? “This Is Christmas” is what happens and it is both joyful and triumphant.
It is definitely one of Smith’s more lighter songs, but that doesn’t mean it lacks substance as evidenced by his description and the multiple listens you will find yourself giving the song. “This Is Christmas” tells the story, Smith says, “of an adult visiting his parents at Christmas and lamenting how he’s always made to feel like a child when he returns home. It culminates in his realization and acceptance that they’re family after all, and nothing will (or even should) change that.”
Smith and his longtime friend and collaborator Charlton Pettus certainly make “This Is Christmas” the family affair inspired by the holiday as backing vocalists on the track include Smith’s daughters Diva and Wilder and Pettus’ children Georgica and Harry. Jason Joseph, Simon Steadman and a chorus comprised of local school children round out the vocals. The music, including bells, contribute to this being a highly infectious song and I think you will find yourself still listening to it long after Christmas Day is but a fond memory.
Smith had some additional inspiration to write a seasonal song from an unusual source, namely the TV series Psych, which he had already made an appearance on earlier this year. As Smith tells it, “I’d been attempting to write a holiday song for years, but always found them a bit trite and forced. I was trying again when Psych’s James Roday approached me about licensing a song for the holiday episode of Psych. Once he sent me a clip of the scene he had in mind, it all made sense and the song came together naturally.”
“This Is Christmas” will feature in the December 15 episode “The Polarizing Express” airing at 9:00 PM on USA and is followed by a second all-new episode at 10:00 PM. Shawn makes a mistake which leads to evidence getting thrown out against a crime lord, getting himself fired from the SBPD. Through a series of dreams – which reveal what life would’ve been like if he hadn’t returned to Santa Barbara – Shawn finds a new way to put the crime lord in jail and redeem himself. Smith has hinted that his song features in the final scene of the episode.