Featuring Chris Butler, who wrote the new-wave holiday classic "Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses, Randy Brooks, who penned the always-polarizing “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” Chris Eaton, who wrote Amy Grant’s “Breath of Heaven,” and Songwriters Hall of Famer Paul Williams, who is best known for “Rainbow Connection,” but who also wrote all the songs for The Muppet Christmas Carol. American Songwriter Podcast Network: https://americansongwriter.com/podcasts
On this very special holiday episode of Songcraft, we speak with Chris Butler, who wrote the new-wave holiday classic "Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses, as well as three other writers of well-known songs of the season: Randy Brooks, who penned the always-polarizing “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” Chris Eaton, who wrote Amy Grant’s classic “Breath of Heaven,” and Songwriters Hall of Famer Paul Williams, who is best known for “Rainbow Connection,” but who also wrote all the songs for The Muppet Christmas Carol. Enjoy the conversations, then hear our ultimate holiday playlist, featuring 150 titles and 150 artists with no repeated songs, and no repeated performers. EPISODE DETAILS: PART ONE Scott and Paul discuss New Year's resolutions and how their friends at Pearl Snap Studios can help with yours; explore the difference between "sad Christmas" versus "happy Christmas;" and get into a conversation about the specific holiday songs they do and don't like. PART TWO Scott and Paul chat with four songwriters about their perennial Christmas hits. Our guests on this very special holiday episode are... Chris Butler – “Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses (1981) 12:00 mark Chris Butler has led an interesting life. He was a protester at Kent State when the Ohio National Guard opened fire on him and his fellow students in 1970; he earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest recorded pop song in history (the 69-minute “The Devil Glitch”); and he currently lives in Jeffrey Dahmer’s childhood home in Akron, Ohio. As Chris explains, it’s a beautiful house that nobody wanted, so he got a great deal. He is best known, however, for conceptualizing and leading the 1980s new wave group The Waitresses, which found success with “I Know What Boys Like” and their perennial holiday classic, “Christmas Wrapping.” Chris went on to produce Freedy Johnston, Joan Osborne, and others. He continues to record, produce, and release music under the banner of his own Future Fossil Music. But it’s his unlikely holiday hit that remains the songwriting income gift that keeps on giving. Though it’s been recorded by the Spice Girls, Kate Nash, Miranda Cosgrove, Bella Thorne, the Glee cast, and Kylie Minogue with Iggy Pop, the original Waitresses version is still the one you’re most likely to hear each year in the mall. Randy Brooks – “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” by Elmo & Patsty (1979) 31:33 mark Whenever Randy Books is asked how to become a hit songwriter, he always answers, “Do You think if I knew, I’d still be a one-hit wonder after 30 years?” That hit was “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” one of the most loved and loathed modern holiday classics that also happens to be a multi-platinum seller that has topped Billboard’s holiday singles chart multiple times. It even earned Randy Songwriter of the Year and Song of the Year honors from SESAC, and spawned an animated Christmas special, musical toys, ornaments, greeting cards, apparel, video games, a branded hot chocolate mix, and even a Tesla dashboard app. Though the hit version of “Grandma” was recorded by Elmo & Patsy, the song has been covered by Ray Stevens, Mitch Ryder, The Coasters, and—most recently—by Jimmy Fallon and Dolly Parton. Randy continues to perform with his two bands, and solo at songwriter events all over the country. He is resigned to the fact that, no matter what else he might accomplish in life, he is destined to be remembered for just one thing—kind of like the John Wilkes Boothe of songwriters. Chris Eaton – “Breath of Heaven" by Amy Grant (1992) / "Saviour's Day" by Cliff Richard (1990) 44:55 mark UK-based singer, songwriter and musician Chris Eaton first made his mark as a writer when Sir Cliff Richard began recording his material, including the UK holiday hit “Saviour’s Day,” which reached #1 on the pop chart across the pond. In the US, however, Eaton’s Christmas standard is “Breath of Heaven,” which has been recorded by Amy Grant, Donna Summer, Jessica Simpson, Sara Groves, Vince Gill, and Melissa Manchester. Other artists who’ve recorded songs from Chris’s catalog include Janet Jackson, Sheena Easton, Keith Urban, Patti Austin, and Grover Washington, Jr. His greatest success has been in the Contemporary Christian market, where he has earned BMI awards for radio hits such as “Adore” by Jaci Velasquez, “My Heart Goes Out” by Warren Barfield, and the Rachel Lampa singles “Lift Me Up” and “Live For You.” When Amy Grant released “Breath of Heaven” as the single from her multi-platinum-selling Home for Christmas album, it topped the Christian charts and was named CCM Song of the Year by Billboard magazine. Paul Williams – Songs from The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) 1:05:31 mark Singer, actor, author, recovery advocate, and Songwriters Hall of Famer Paul Williams has penned hits such as “We’ve Only Just Begun,” “Rainy Days and Mondays,” and “I Won’t Last a Day Without You” for The Carpenters; “Out in the Country,” “Family of Man” and “An Old Fashioned Love Song” for Three Dog Night; and “You and Me Against the World” for Helen Reddy. His songs have additionally been recorded by Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, David Bowie, Tony Bennett, Willie Nelson, REM, Gladys Knight, Diana Ross, Sarah Vaughn, Curtis Mayfield, Gwen Stefani, Diana Krall, the Dixie Chicks, and others. Williams is perhaps best known for his movie songs and soundtracks. He and co-writer Barbra Streisand won an Oscar, a Grammy, and a Golden Globe for “Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star is Born),” and he has earned Academy Award nominations for his musical contributions to Cinderella Liberty, Phantom of the Paradise, Bugsy Malone, and The Muppet Movie, which included his now-standard “Rainbow Connection.” Williams later reunited with Jim Henson, penning the songs for the classic children’s film The Muppet Christmas Carol.
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