Welsh singer-songwriter Judith Owen and her actor-humorist husband Harry Shearer have combined their talents to recreate the Spinal Tap classic ‘Christmas With The Devil.’
With her tongue firmly in her cheek, singer Judith Owen calls “Christmas with the Devil” one of Spinal Tap’s “most introspective and thought provoking songs.”
We caught up with her to ask her more about singing the sacred and the profane in the holiday season.
We, uh, kind of know the acoustic bass player from Spinal Tap and the Simpsons. Was as this a new role for Harry – and was this a voice he hasn’t done before?!
No, he sang it when Tap did it and has been the voice of the Devil on the Simpsons, so let’s just say he’s channeling!
When you aren’t singing about Hell, what is a favorite traditional Christmas song you like to sing?
Silent Night. It’s one of the most beautiful folk songs and is built for harmonizing, which really speaks to my Welsh heritage. Also, any of the Great American Songbook Christmas classics like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, “The Christmas Song”… a singers dream!
Does your heart go out to singers at Christmas gigs?
No… enjoy it!
Any tips for singing a Christmas gig?
Remember the audience might well be drunk, so they won’t notice if you’ve sung “Chestnuts” 5 times. ALSO: have a party on stage with your band, but remember to look at the audience every 3rd song. No matter what the song request is, only sing what you want to sing, damn it (unless it’s one you already know)! HAVE FUN!!!
Have you ever had a hellish Christmas gig?
A blunder that happened to you or others at a Holiday gig.
OK, it was a private party, 2 guys got roaring drunk, into a fight and started swinging beer bottles at each other. Only thing was they ended up fighting in the middle of the band and it was me who got hit over the head and knocked unconscious… next!
A funny experience at a Holiday gig.
There’s nothing better in this world than music and laughter (unless your dog takes a poo on stage, during “Chestnuts”… true story).
When you’re not singing, what are some of your favourite holiday traditions you like to celebrate?
What do you mean “when I’m not singing”…? If I stop singing I get depressed, so I find my “people” and we harmonize, harmonize…
You’ve also done a less profane, original Christmas song. So, what is your philosophy about Christmas, the sacred and the profane?
Christmas is a joy and a struggle, like everything in life – it’s just multiplied by ten. A lot of us struggle to get through it. We miss people who are gone, the expectation bar has been raised so bloody high you can only fail, it’s full of economic pressures that really get people in a mess AND at the same time it’s a time for tradition and celebration and the simple joys if you can only remember that. So this is what this song is about, the priceless things that you remember forever.
My mother died right before Christmas when I was a young teen, so it changed how I felt about it, and yet she’s the one who showed me how to decorate the tree and who instilled that joy in me. It’s a bittersweet time, but this song and dressing the tree every year is my way of celebrating.
What is a Christmas-singing related question that you wish I had asked – and your answer?
“What happens when people sing together Judith?”
Well, I’m glad you asked, as it’s an extraordinary thing that happens. Studies have found that people’s hearts start synching until they all beat together. That is phenomenal proof that group singing really does the heart, mind, and soul the greatest good. And it’s SO much cheaper than therapy!
Judith and Harry will be performing their well-known Christmas sing-a-long shows around the US starting on December 5th and finishing on December 18th. Proceeds from the digital single will be donated to mental health charity SANE
Judith Owen’s new album Ebb & Flow is out now.
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