Chimneyside Chats with Rändi Fay

by - December 12, 2019

Graphic created by Lucas Seidel Design

Gather 'round the open fire for Chimneyside Chats - a monthly feature with holiday stories from our favorite artists. See what's in their stockings this year as they reminisce on Christmas memories, share their favorite recipe and more! Here's what singer/songwriter Rändi Fay had to say:

I love Christmas - from the snow, the gilded trees and the “Ho Ho Hos” to the love, hope and peace it represents to me. And I love Christmas music; the intense pull of the season, the nostalgia and the joy. I have released a number of Christmas songs, and am already scheming about a Christmas project for 2020! But short of a really creative “Angels We Have Heard on High” in 2017, I have not released a Christmas cover song in seven years. So what makes this Christmas different? Why release a cover as a Christmas single, and more importantly, why “Grown-Up Christmas List”?

My producer Aaron Zinsmeister and I started discussing our Christmas release back in June, trying to decide if we would do a traditional carol this year. All of my creative energy was directed toward writing and recording the songs of “Intuition” so I had no mind-space to write a Christmas song. After scanning through more traditional carols, I came upon the song “Grown-Up Christmas List“ and the lyrics REALLY resonated with me - so simple, so direct and so complete.

Christmas can be a time of peace for all. I am a dreamer, an idealist, a romantic, but I am also a realist- can you put those two together: an idealistic realist? Haha - oh boy! If you can, that’s me! I understand and completely appreciate that everyone’s experiences are different, and our holidays are colored by that. As Christmas approaches this year, even I have a sense of unease. Last January 3, one of my sons was diagnosed with leukemia. I had a feeling during Christmas right before that something was not right with him. I look at the photos now and my stomach tightens, my eyes tear up. How could I have not known? How could I not have somehow prevented this? It’s like a bubble of invulnerability popped, and all of a sudden, I couldn’t protect my children, my family, and what he was facing. He is 29 by the way, but my kids are forever my babies! Thank God, as we approach the anniversary of his diagnosis, he is doing very well on chemo!

When you face the dark, deep, gut-twisting horror of cancer or other life-changing illnesses, injuries or circumstances, of course your perspective shifts. You draw in your forces, pull up the drawbridge and protect what matters most. This affects my artistry as well. My strive for authenticity. I want to work with words that matter. And “Grown-Up Christmas List” has a lyric that moves with child-like clarity about what matters most, panning from the most personal to the global:
“No more lives torn apart, and war would never start, and time would heal all hearts. And everyone would have a friend, and right would always win, and love would never end.”
Isn’t that beautiful? Here is a behind the scenes secret: while recording the chorus, I broke down into a hot, messy, snot-gulping crying jag. Poor Aaron was so patient, and I got through it and somehow we finished the session. I am still not entirely sure what caused my meltdown, except I remember feeling I can’t. I just can’t. I can’t sing this well enough. I can’t solve the immigration crisis or climate change or unemployment or poverty or the endless hostilities across the world…I can’t cure my son’s cancer…Oh, my inner rant reciting all that I couldn’t do went from the most personal to the most global, just like the lyrics. As I said, the words resonated with me. How on earth can I have a hand in making those listed ideals happen?

Maybe the answer lies in the potentially divisive statement “right would always win”. What exactly is “right”? The fight over what is “right” is the source of much of our interpersonal and international struggles. It means something different to everyone, and may even switch within our own hearts from situation to situation. “Right” is not an absolute, but I bet that most people’s “right” is defined with the best intentions to further what they believe is in the interest of goodness. We all fiercely desire to be respected for our individuality, and in doing so, we have to respect that need in others. Believe me, there is so much we can’t control, but we can make this choice: give others the benefit of the doubt, honor our differences and release impulsive anger and hate. That feels right to me, and is how, at a very personal level, I can take the first steps toward “no more lives torn apart…”

This is my only life-long wish, my grown-up Christmas list. Merry Christmas!

Learn more about Rändi Fay and listen to her cover of "Grown-Up Christmas List" on our Chimneyside Chats playlist!

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