Original Christmas and holiday songs from Raymond Peace, with some accompaniment from The Orderves--they no doubt are the ones who occasionally sound like mice or chipmunks. Fork and Note Productions asked Ray about the development of the album--here's part of the interview:
FNP: So how was it done?
JRP: It gradually developed over a good bit of time. I had done a Christmas cassette with 6 of the songs on it back in the nineties, so they're included on this album with some remixing. So those may have more of an analog sound--since they were originally done on a four track machine with overdubs. Later "Little Elves" was done using a digital recorder, along with the main instruments from the keyboard. "Rudolph's Nose" and "Cozy Christmas" used the keyboard for the instumental track and the vocals were done using the computer.
FNP: How about the origins of the title track, "Cozy Christmas"?
JRP: The music for that song was written in the time after i was in junior college, and before I decided to start back and finish a degree. I wrote a lot of music during that time, including several of the songs on this album. But the words then were what some people call "dummy" words or "stand-in" lyrics (although I didn't really know it at the time), and then gradually over the years I began to do Christmas lyrics for them. So that's how it was with "Cozy Christmas", "The Christmas Star", "Up The Chimney", and "Rudolph's Nose". The music was there, and gradually I turned them into Christmas songs.
FNP: What about the song "Little Elves"?
JRP: It was an instrumental that was written during my Memphis days. I called it "Amber Sun", just to have a title. Then several years later I got the "Little Elves" idea. "Santa's Little Elves" is the first version before I decided it needed verses. It may have been the first of the group to be turned into a Christmas song. "It's Christmas Time" was probably the only one in the album originally thought of as a holiday song, but I gradually rewrote the lyrics specifically to be more about Christmas.
FNP: Any thoughts about the instrumental songs on the album?
JRP: "Santa's Helper" has some lyrics, but the instumental version will have to do for now. That music came along about the same time as most of the others, but it had a different middle. So later I dropped the middle section and put the verse music in that's there now
"Holly" was written on guitar rather than piano. If you listen fairly closely you can hear the guitar in pretty much its original form, but it does have the keyboard and the bells and the drums to fill it out a bit. It was the only instrumental on that 6 song cassette album that I called "Christmas Present".
"Gift Horse (Don't Look A Gift Horse In The Mouth)" was on another CD I did called "Jump Up", but I decided with the title that it could fit into "Cozy Christmas". It makes me chuckle usually--you can sing along with it "Dont look a gift horse in the mouth, in the mouth, in the mouth, in the mouth". Probably should have called it "In The Mouth", but that wouldn't work as well on a Christmas album.
I like the energy and enthusiasm of "The Wonder Of Christmas", which also started with a different title.
The Christmas rush made me think that "Holiday Solace" would be a good idea. So it's here also. It had another title also, and I would have liked to add some Christmas bells to it, but that didn't work out yet.
FNP: Do you have any favorites?
JRP: Well, I'm fond of all of them, in various ways. "Christmas Present" has sort of a doo-wop early rock and roll sound and was fun to do with JJ's band occasionally. "The Christmas Star" has some religious imagery and if I get to redo it there won't be so much falsetto. I'd like to have it arranged for a choir to sing and let the females hit the high notes. "Up The Chimney" may turn out to be the favorite for some folks, the chorus is pretty catchy.
FNP: I don't think you mentioned "Joyful Dancing Box" yet.
JRP: Well, that one came about rather spontaneously one night when I was playing piano in a local restaurant--I was searching for a song with that type of approach so I could occasionally play it instead of a well-known song that I played a lot in those days. It was an odd moment because it emerged there while I was playing for the diners--so when I got back home I must have made some sort of note or recording so I'd remember it, and then I recorded versions of it more than once over the course of several years, and this is the recording of it i like the best so far. I hope you like it.
FNP: Well, thanks for sharing the stories, and for the music.
JRP: Thank you.