Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas: An Interview with Preschool of Rock’s Michael NapolitanoDecember 20, 2013
We, at Preschool of Rock have a new ORIGINAL ROCKIN’ Christmas song for you to enjoy! With more music from your favorite Mommy and Me Music class, Preschool of Rock brings you the joy of the Christmas season with a family song for children of all ages! Check out our interview with POR’s own, Michael Napolitano- if you keep reading, we have a free download for you.
Tell us about the NEW Preschool of Rock Christmas song. What was your inspiration for this?
I think I have to start with a little personal history. Christmas music is a beautiful and a very specific art form. What I mean is, Christmas music needs to be listened to in the right context. Honestly, I can’t bear it before Thanksgiving or after New Years. Even during the fuzzy christmas season too much of it gets on my nerves – so I spread it out – I have about 100 christmas LP’s ranging from childrens to classical. My favorites are Dean Martin, Perry Como and Burl Ives- super smooth singing with angelic choirs of voices in the background, strings, bells and all the trimmings for a wintery soundscape.
I never imagined writing a Christmas song. Someone actually suggested it. I wrote this song last year a couple of days before Christmas – I feel like you cannot capture a “fake” feeling, I needed to be in that drowsy, hot cocoa-induced Christmas mood.
The song itself, like many of the songs I write, developed quickly – a stanza popped right out followed by a catchy chorus. The kids, my wife and I sang this tune all week.
This year I wrote the remainder of the lyrics. All I had at first was “Deck the halls with boughs of holly, rock n roll with Dad and Mommy” – which is an awesome line, but not quite enough to fill a song.
What was it like creating your own Christmas song? Were there any challenges putting together the lyrics and laying down the rhythm?
This song was most definitely challenging. My goal for children’s music, is to make it family music. Music that parents not only tolerate, but enjoy, and find themselves singing along or after they turn the track off. Christmas songs are the same way. The topic of Christmas gives a writer so much to work with, yet it’s so specific and it’s been done so many times its hard to be different and it’s hard to balance on that line of cheesy or good. Being that children’s music hosts the same issue for me this became a really fun challenge.
I took phrases from some of the most well-known Christmas songs and put them together to write a new song all together. After the fact, I realized I was inspired by Build to Spill’s song “You were Right” (an amazing song using lyrics from classic rock artists like Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix and John Cougar Mellencamp).
The song started with guitar and vocals, I thought it was too normal, sounded like anything else. I don’t usually have this problem, typically the ideas flow. I’m a drummer first so I did just that. I kept the vocals, and played a drum pattern over the melody with no accompaniment, just drums and vocals. EUREKA! A catchy bass line followed and what we now here is a real rock Christmas song. There are some really neat sounds I was able to conjure up to give an overall christmas feeling. Listen for the melodica, chimes, palm muted guitars, and of course sleigh bells.
What was it like having your family get on the track with you? Should we anticipate a whole Napolitano Holiday album in the future?
Yes, that is the plan. We most recently had a pick up drum cicrcle after my daughter;s birthday, it really rattled my creative cage. We are working on a bunch of Napolitano family creations at the moment. Music is so special to me, and anytime I play music with my friends or family it is just that much more special.
What was the first Christmas song you remember listening to and loving as a kid?
There are two, first is what you hear at the very top of this track, there is a music box playing ‘White Christmas’ – this was a gift from my grandfather – I listened to it over an dover. It’s an emotional melody and song. Alot of these christmas songs are in minor keys and pull at the heartstrings, this one does that to me.
My all time favorite songs is Jingle Bells by Frank Sinatra.
“I love those J-I-N-G-L-E Bells, BONG”…..great song!!! Everything about this. It’s fun, it’s light and it’s so very happy. The production, the swinging vocals, the choir singing – it’s just an incredible piece of work.
You said that in your family a huge Christmas celebration is a tradition- what makes family such an important part of Christmas for you?
I think it may be the other way around. Christmas is an important part of our family.
That time we all sit together and talk, and eat. Like any holiday, it’s special. You take those moments, forget about all your worries and embrace in the love and laughter of your family. Now don’t get me wrong, the food is a huge part of it! We are a big Italian family, the food is fantastic!
Do you have a favorite Christmas tradition?
I love watching people open the gifts I buy them. I really do. But my favorite Christmas Tradition is singing the Twelve Days of Christmas with the entire Napolitano Family. Which includes my father, his 6 siblings and their children and children’s children. All 50 of us, Old uncles and aunts, the little kids – everyone has their part (and have for years) Myself, my brother, and my Uncle Mauro & Aunt Ida are Four calling birds.
My father and I dress in ruffle tuxes and conduct the song, we draw on fake mustaches it’s hilarious.
If Santa had a favorite christmas song, what do you think it would be?
Bruce Springsteen’s “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” (but, we are hoping one day it will be Preschool of Rock’s Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas)
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