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Harry Connick, Jr.'s New Holiday LP in Spatial Audio On Apple Music

Harry Connick, Jr.'s New Holiday LP in Spatial Audio On Apple Music

Each day at 8:00a PST from November 25 - 30, Apple Music subscribers will receive exclusive gifts.

Apple Music is getting into the giving spirit this holiday season with the return of From Apple Music With Love, a special countdown to the holidays. Each day at 8:00a PST from November 25 - 30, Apple Music subscribers will receive exclusive gifts from some of the biggest and brightest names in music, stamped with love and ready for unwrapping.

This year, gifts range from live concert recordings, new renditions of favorite songs, a classic album rerelease alongside a brand new holiday album, and party-crushing mixes to close out the year. Do yourself a favor and enjoy the musical experiences we've put together with Apple Music listeners in mind.

Today's exclusive gift comes from Harry Connick, Jr., where Christmas has always been about family. "I was really lucky to have a close family," he tells Apple Music. "And that didn't really change as my family dynamic changed and I got married and had kids. It became that much more exciting."

The holiday season for Connick was soundtracked by artists from his parents' record collection: "Nat 'King' Cole to Sinatra to Bing Crosby or jazz records. Being from New Orleans there was music everywhere," he adds. "Music on the streets, music in the clubs, it was on the radio. So, when you hear a song like 'The Christmas Song' or 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas', you can't help but have memories of when you heard those songs. They've been a part of my life forever."

On his fourth album of Christmas material, Connick offers his interpretations of classics such as "Jingle Bells" and "Go Tell It On the Mountain", while penning one new original ("Make It Merry") and re-recording three songs from his 1993 LP When My Heart Finds Christmas. "I probably wouldn't have done it if the pandemic hadn't happened," he says. "I had some time in the studio and I had the ability to record things by myself."

With Connick handling all production and instrumentation except for strings and some horns, his approach to interpreting much-loved Christmas songs was simple. "I look at the lyrics, I look at the melody in its purest form, and then I just interpret that," he says.

"It's almost like a portrait artist painting somebody that's sitting right in front of them and bringing their own thing to it. I know just by nature of my own experience and my personality that it's gonna have my fingerprints all over it." Here Connick spreads the Christmas cheer with a track-by-track breakdown of Make It Merry.

Harry Connick, Jr. on "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas"...

"It's a great piece of music. If you look at the original version of it, it was written in a way that wasn't very positive. If you look at the original lyrics about 'this may be your last Christmas', it was super depressing. And it was just a song that I always loved and never got around to doing. It was fun to record."

Harry Connick, Jr. on "Make It Merry"...

"There was a piano tuner in my studio tuning my piano and I couldn't record while he was there. I asked him, 'Hey, man, how much longer you got?' and he said about half an hour. And I said to myself, okay, use this half an hour to write the words and the lyrics to a Christmas song. It's an extremely simple song, so it wasn't that great of a compositional feat, but I wrote it very quickly and ended up recording it. I wanted to do at least one song that was written for this album, so that's what this one was."

Harry Connick, Jr. on "Papa Noel"...

"This has definitely got a Cajun influence. And even though I didn't grow up playing Cajun music, it's a huge part of the state that I come from-Cajun music and zydeco music are a gigantic part of Louisiana tradition. So this is kind of my nod to that. It's a song that I've known for a while. I kind of forgot about it, and my buddy Tracey Freeman, who mixed the record, said, 'Man, you should do "Papa Noel", just because it's a classic Louisiana vibe.' It hasn't really been done that much and it's just a great tribute to the Cajun culture of Louisiana."

Harry Connick, Jr. on "The Christmas Song"...

"This one I wanted to do kind of from the perspective of a kid, because I remember this song when I was a kid. Even the very first chord you hear, it sounds like a very simple chord, and it is, but it's got an interval that doesn't get used very much, which is a minor 9th. [It creates] a feeling of a missed note in the kind of motif that plays throughout the whole thing. It's kind of like when kids go to a piano they just plunk out notes, they don't really care or know anything about what they should do, they just play things and let their ears guide them. This is kind of my youthful perspective on an amazing piece of music."

Harry Connick, Jr. on "I Pray On Christmas"...

"I've sung it before in concerts at Christmastime, so I thought it would be fun to do a more proper version. And it was also to showcase my buddy Jonathan DuBose, who's a great guitar player, and this instrument called a Whammy Clav, which is one of about 12 in the world-it's a clavinet, which is a keyboard from the '70s made by Hohner, but this particular one was redesigned by a guy named Buddy Castle. It's basically got a whammy bar on a clavinet, it's really cool. So it was me and Jonathan just trading and having fun with that."

Harry Connick, Jr. on "(It Must've Been Ol') Santa Claus"...

"A lot of times when I go on tour around Christmas, people like this song a lot. And it's really nice to hear that. I thought it would be fun to give it a different version. It's funny, when I was in the studio there was nobody around. You're not talking to anybody, you're just sitting there recording ideas. You lay down the individual drum tracks and then the piano tracks and then the bass tracks, it's just a fun process. I love recording and I love that entire process. So this one was just a case of 'maybe I could try this one again'."

Harry Connick, Jr. on "It Came Upon The Midnight Clear"...

"This was one I had never done before. There's an old combo organ called a Philips Philicorda, it's from the '60s, I think. The Philips Philicorda had a series of recordings on little 45 [RPM] albums-the keyboard player could put a little record player on top of the organ and put this accompaniment record on, and it would be a drummer playing 32 bars of funk or swing or waltz or whatever it was, and so he could have a drummer on the gig without having a drummer on the gig. So when you hear those brushes on the drums, that's actually this cheap little turntable and some drummer from the '50s or whatever that recorded this public-domain accompaniment, and the track just built from there."

Harry Connick, Jr. on "Christmas Time Is Here"...

"Vince Guaraldi wrote that tune. The first time I heard it was probably on one of those Charlie Brown specials in the late '70s. It has an instrument called the harpejji-it's a string instrument that's on a rectangular piece of flat wood that you put down on a table. It's kind of a cross between a guitar, a pedal steel guitar and a piano. It has elements of all of them. And you play with your fingers. It's just an unbelievable instrument in that you can do things that you can't do on a guitar and you can't do on a piano. I thought it would be a pretty song on the album."

Harry Connick, Jr. on "On This Christmas Morning"...

"The music is written by Chopin; it's a nocturne in E-flat. Chopin wrote some of the most beautiful melodies of all time. They lend themselves to lyrics very well, and nobody to my knowledge has written lyrics to that music. So it just sounded like a song that would be a pretty Christmas song. I thought about what Christmas means and what I wanted to say within the confines of a melody that Chopin wrote, and it's just about the serenity and peace that you sometimes find when you wake up on Christmas. So I put my lyrics to his melody and orchestrated it and recorded it."

Harry Connick, Jr. on "When My Heart Finds Christmas"...

"Again, I was in the studio and I'm like, what songs would be fun to redo? There wasn't a whole lot of thought that went into picking that one, it just seemed like a fun one to do again."

Harry Connick, Jr. on "Christmas Day"...

"That was a song I wrote for a children's Christmas show that I did called The Happy Elf. I like singing it, it's very simple. I like the message of it. I recorded it before, and I thought it would be nice to do an updated version."

Harry Connick, Jr. on Go Tell It On the Mountain"...

"There's a keyboard called a Yamaha CP-80, it's an old keyboard from the '70s or '80s. It's an acoustic piano but it can be electrified. And it was very common to bring these on tour for rock 'n' roll bands because it was portable and it was an actual piano. So, I just recorded it direct and then I recorded another track direct, and so the two piano tracks are slightly different and we just pan them out. It's a song you don't hear on a lot of Christmas albums, but it's just a New Orleans version of an old classic."

Harry Connick, Jr. on "Jingle Bells"...

"It's a cool tune and there's not a whole lot to it. I sang a couple of verses, and in some of the verses I use some words that you don't hear a lot, like '240 was his speed' or whatever it says, and the play on the word 'upset' when I say 'upsot'. And I just thought it would be funny if the choir, which is me, didn't understand, and they simultaneously were saying, 'What are you talking about? 240 was his speed, is that fast?' So it's a completely silly version of the song. I think that was the last song I recorded, and it's just kind of goofy. But when my big band comes in on it, they sound amazing. It's just a fun version of a song that's been done eight gazillion times."

Fans can listen to Make It Merry Radio with Harry Connick Jr., debuting today, and featuring stories from the acclaimed New Orleans songwriter as he shares his favorite holiday songs, only on Apple Music Hits. Apple Music subscribers can listen anytime on demand at http://apple.co/HarryCJr-FAMWL

And tune in every day at 8am PST to keep counting down the holidays with an exclusive gift on Apple Music and check out Harry Connick, Jr.'s "Make It Merry" here:

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With original content from the most respected and beloved people in music, autoplay, time-synced lyrics, lossless audio, and immersive sound powered by Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos, Apple Music offers the world's best listening experience, helping listeners discover new music and enjoy their favorites while empowering the global artist community.

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