Chris Young agrees — writing original Christmas songs with the goal of creating tomorrow’s standards might be one of music’s greatest ambitions. Any result has to compete with iconic classics by Irving Berlin, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Jingle Bells,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and many others.
“I had never written a good Christmas song before this year I don’t think,” Young admitted during our CMT.com interview. “I’ve tried in the past and it just never really came together the way I wanted it to.”
Young feels he lucked out this year when he co-wrote “Under the Weather” and the title track of his first holiday album It Must Be Christmas.
“All my favorite Christmas records have always had one or two originals on there,” he said. “So, the fact that these came this year in writing rooms and they’re both so different, is perfect timing. ‘It Must Be Christmas’ is very different in tone than ‘Under the Weather,’ but they compliment each other. But like I said, I’ve tried to write them before and for whatever reason, they haven’t come together until this year.”
It Must Be Christmas features bucket list collaborations with Brad Paisley on “The First Noel,” Alan Jackson on “There’s a New Kid in Town” and Boyz II Men on “Silent Night.” It’s also among Young’s most traveled collections since all of the music was tracked over the summer while everyone involved was on tour. Boyz II Men recorded their parts while on tour in Japan.
“I was literally all over the country playing shows and then I would go sit in the back of my bus with headphones on and start listening, writing out notes and then sending it back to our engineer,” Young recalled. “So, it was pretty interesting as far as the way we made this album and how a lot of it came together. But I’ve definitely put as much time — or more time — into this as I do any record that I’ve ever done. I’m proud of what the result is.”