Merry Christmas

1994 - Ukrainian Bell Carol / Щедрик (Shchedryk)

The idea for my strange arrangements of Christmas carols began quite some time ago with the notion that this tune could be played by strings and heavy metal guitars, and that that would be really cool. (This recording predates TSO's “Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24” by a year; not that they got the idea from me. Just sayin'.) But back then, I had no recording gear of my own. So I borrowed a tape deck, a sampler, and a Black Friday afternoon from my friend Bill, who I also envisioned as the guitar player for this. Cassettes were made in time for Christmas distribution. Recently, I stumbled across the master tape and thought it could perhaps be restored. Through digital magic, it sounds much better now than it did then. If you're wondering about the cover art, it may help to know that the original tune has nothing to do with bells or Christmas. All of that comes from an English-language adaptation. In Ukrainian, the lyrics tell of a bird chirping about good fortune in the coming year, and are sung over Leontovych's infectious ostinato. The bird on the cover is a serin, which, in Ukrainian, is shchedryk, and that's the song's title. The blue-sky background constrasting with the bird's yellow plumage gives you the Ukrainian national colors. Happy listening.