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Photo by John Hartman
Joe Ebel writes: ?Wow! An opportunity to present a song on ?Ornaments and Icing?! I suggested to Annie that we do a version of an old Christmas round, ?Christmas Is Coming.? We liked the sentiment of the song, the joy and anticipation of Christmas approaching and the generosity and giving that the season begets.

?When I was a kid, our Christmases were fantastic. I have four brothers and four sisters, all younger than me, and it didn't take but a few presents each to fill the space under the tree and spill out to cover half our family room, or so it seemed. My parents were by no means rich; my dad was a self-employed beautician. But, through frugal year-round shopping, mom and dad were able to give us an amazing Christmas experience. So, Annie and I tried to capture that feeling of generosity, anticipation and joy in our approach to presenting this song.

?I liked the version Annie knew. It was different than the commercial versions I had heard as a child and we thought it would be relatively easy to put together. What were we thinking!!? This round is over in twelve bars. Then, it's repetition time!

?We were mulling over how to make the song interesting when Annie started singing a melody line that became the connecting instrumental theme for the piece. We went into our studio and she got out her grandmother's glockenspiel and started playing the melody. We recorded it and added a mandolin for a bit of texture.

?On guitar, I worked out an opening that was a statement of the melody, then created a more intricate arrangement for underneath the instrumental interludes. A simple accompaniment under Annie's vocal sufficed for the verses and kept her voice the focus. To keep it interesting, I joined in on vocals and added pizzicato violins in the second verse. The pizzicato gives a feeling like clockworks and helps emphasize the anticipation aspect of the song.

?Annie improvised some vocal lines and the solo was born. I added a violin harmony to complement her voice. Both the violin and Annie's voice contribute several familiar Christmas tunes as the round fades out. The final touch was another one of Annie's ideas; use a tambourine to simulate the sounds of Christmas bells on reins.

?The most difficult part of this whole production was taking a twelve bar round and turning it into a fuller arrangement that conveys the feeling of joy, anticipation and generosity that I felt as a child during the Christmas season. Hope you enjoy it!

Merry Christmas!?