Our Mom made sure that she emphasized the true meaning of Christmas and the reverence that should accompany the celebration. That gave it a sense of history, spirituality, magic and wonder. It seems that more and more that feeling has become lost or at least eclipsed and obscured by the more commercial aspects of the holiday, which makes me sad. As one gets older and deals with the realities of life, it becomes harder and harder to recollect those feelings of innocence and pure joy. But every now and then, something - a photograph, a smell, a song - will bring it all back, even if only for a moment, and remind us of the sweetness of those days gone by. I was fortunate enough to have such a moment a few years ago, and it changed me forever - for the better. Something was added back, and now it is mine forever. So the best thing I can do now is to share it - I hope it may give you something as well...
- Some of you might know the story already...
I had decided that year (2013) that I would put up a REAL tree for Christmas again, after not having done so for many years. I hadn't gone through the trouble for several reasons; lack of space in the apartment we used to live in, the girls had grown up and were out on their own, my brothers and their families both live on the West Coast, Dad is in DC, and since Mom had passed on several years ago, it just never really felt quite the same.But since my wife and I had recently moved into a house with much more room (and even a working fireplace!), I just decided that it felt like time to revisit that old tradition - we love having that "living" entity in the house, and the smell of the pine is just so cheery, nostalgic and intoxicating. It really adds something to the home environment, and brings good feelings and memories.
So, I went down to my storage unit to retrieve the old box of ornaments and decorations that had been in my family for generations, and brought it back to the house. I hadn't seen that box in a long, long time, since it had been buried in the back in the storage locker after clearing out the house we grew up in. I started to get that familiar excited feeling I remembered from back when I was a kid and I knew it was time to start decorating for Christmas. Well, let me tell you; as soon as I opened that box, I was hit by a tidal wave of memories and emotions that seemed to possess my whole being all in an instant. It even still smelled like Christmas at my Mom's house! How was that even possible after all this time?
As I pulled out box after box of ornaments, lights, candles and all kinds of decorations, the feelings became so overwhelming I felt like I could laugh and cry at the same time. A song that I had started writing several years ago, but had never finished, awoke and started swirling around in my brain, and some of the blanks started to fill in, even as I went digging around trying to locate the original pages of the lyrics I had written before. Fortunately, I found what I was looking for pretty quickly and was writing furiously again. Before I had time to even think much about it, I had the finished pages and along with my guitar, started working out the chords. It was like I could hear it playing in my head, and I just had to capture it and play back what I heard. Soon, I was ready to record a rough draft and try it on for size, so I grabbed the laptop, went into a quiet room and started sketching it out. I'll cut to the chase here and not bore you with all the details of the whole process, but suffice to say; I was consumed by this whole thing - morning, noon and night, for about a week, until I had it down to my satisfaction, and I felt like I could once again breathe and return to somewhat normal life, knowing that I had captured and interpreted it just as it needed to be. I know it still could use some polish, but for now, I think I'm satisfied that it's alright. I'm so happy that it came to me, and that I was able to express what I felt and needed to say. It went a long way towards making the holiday feel joyous again, like it used to be, when I was younger.
So, all that being said; here it is...
I wish you all every bit of the warmth, togetherness, good memories (old and new) that life has to offer and many many blessings during the holidays and at all times.
From me to you,
<3 p=""> Los
You can now download the new version on iTunes!3>
3> <3 p="">And on Amazon
Christmas (The Way It Used To Be)3>
<3 p=""><3 p="">Carlos Jones - 12/17/133>
I remember younger days
when it was Christmas
so much joy and happiness
and love all around us
I can close my eyes
and see my Mother's smile
and feel alright again
all of us together as a family
those scenes play back in my memory
when I think about those times
before the innocence was lost
it wasn't all about the stores
and how much things cost
the child inside of me cries out for
that sweet simplicity
when what we truly celebrate
comes for free
It's another silent night
It’s time to light the lights
And decorate the Christmas tree
and let's make Christmas...
The way it used to be
Now that I've come of age
faced with so much responsibility
I look into my own child's eyes and see
how much she depends on me
I know that I must try
to make her realize
just exactly what this day means
to somehow teach the meaning of
a day that's based on peace and love
I just have to search inside
for the gift my Mother gave us all
She made sure that we knew
The origination of it all
She reminds me that our spirits
and our hearts hold the key
to everything this season brings
And I believe
And I remember so much that
Everything she touched
she did so lovingly
and that's what made Christmas
The way it used to be
And as we think of our loved ones dear, who are no longer here
We hold them close in our memory
And remember Christmas...
The way it used to be3>
3> <3 p="">2016 UPDATE:3>
So now there is more to add to the story:
Since the time that the song was originally written and recorded, it has taken on renewed life, as a new version has now been recorded and released, with the help of my manager Larry Koval. He brought it to the attention of Tony Nicholas, who works with the legendary R&B group, The O'Jays. Tony brought in a group of highly talented studio musicians to record a new arrangement, and then had me come in to record the vocal track. And as if that weren't gratifying enough, imagine my shock and surprise to come out of the vocal recording booth to find none other than Walter Williams Jr. (1/3 of the O'Jays) sitting there, grooving on the song, which he told me he really liked! Talk about feeling validated - one of my musical heroes that I grew up listening to, digging on something I wrote! And what's really cool is that, back when I was first recording the song, I had envisioned the O'Jays singing it! I could hear it in my head, and thought to myself, "how cool would it be to be able to get this to them, and have them do it." Well, to be this close to one of them and to be able to tell him that, just seemed like a dream, and who knows what might happen in the future? What a gift to have been given.
Thank you Mom!