In 2012, Lady A released their first holiday album, On This Winter's Night. The Christmas album came on the heels of the band's massively successful Grammy-winning third album Own the Night and was a commercial success on its own, selling over half a million copies on the strength of its spirited reinterpretations of Christmas standards and new original holiday songs. On a 2020 deluxe edition of the album, Lady A reimagines three holiday classics—Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime," the Beach Boys' "Little Saint Nick," and Ray Charles' "That Spirit of Christmas—and contributes another new original song to the mix, the nostalgic "Christmas Through Your Eyes." "We cut all these in July, so we spent the summer doing this Christmas project, during the pandemic," Dave Haywood tells Apple Music. "A studio is literally filled with isolation booths, so it's kind of perfect during a pandemic, to be in the studio making music, because everybody's completely isolated and you're able to be creative together. Just set up some lights and bring a little fake Christmas tree, and you're good." Below, Haywood takes Apple Music behind the scenes of the new songs available on the deluxe edition of On This Winter's Night.
Wonderful Christmastime "When you're looking at Christmas music, there's so many great classics. A lot of them have been done many, many times. And we were trying to sort of find a couple that had not been done as much as some of the big ones. We're obviously huge Beatles fans, Paul McCartney fans, and Charles [Kelley] brought this one up too, because he's got a Beatles tattoo on his arm. He's a massive, massive Paul McCartney fan and always loved this one. And we thought we could kind of put our own spin on it. So we kind of slowed the groove down or made it kind of like a half-time groove, to give it a little bit more swing to it."
Christmas Through Your Eyes "It's actually been a while since we've written, just the three of us. A lot of times, we've got a fourth writer in the room, just to kind of help find a new direction or extra lyrical help. But this one was just the three of us. We were looking towards this project and wanted to have something original. And this was one of those songs we obviously could not have written 10 years ago. There's six kids total between the three of us. Christmas becomes a totally different holiday than when we were just young and single and traveling all around. It's a totally different experience to really see it through the eyes of your kids, and the magic that's there, the excitement that's there. You remember like you were right back there, eight years old, just going to bed with such excitement on Christmas Eve."
Little Saint Nick "The Beach Boys are just legendary in their vocal harmonies. The Beatles, The Beach Boys, these guys are what we're all trying to emulate, from a vocal arrangement standpoint. The hardest part was singing all the backgrounds on this song. Charles takes the lead and just kills it. This really fits in his groove. He's got such a gritty, soulful voice that this one lined right up with, I think, our feel and style. Me and Hillary [Scott] had to do our homework on this one. We were in the sound booth with [producer] Dann Huff and, man, he was beating us up trying to get all the oohs exactly right and follow the chords, because Christmas chords are always a little jazzier and more intricate than some of the contemporary music that we play."
That Spirit of Christmas "In the hunt for songs that are not as covered, Charles and Hillary brought this one up early because it appears in a scene from Christmas Vacation where he's up in the attic watching these old films, and it's just that Ray Charles song playing in the background there. So, yeah, there's not really many other versions at all of this song. We thought it would be a really neat, soulful one to do. Again, I think Charles' voice, I just have to compliment him. I love his voice, even though I get to hear it every day. It's a great, soulful tone that I think can totally kill a song like this."