LET IT SNOW – New Xmas duet out 11/16/2018

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Today was Chicago’s first snowfall of the year and it couldn’t be a better way to kick off the 7 day countdown to the release of my new original Christmas Duet on November 16th titled, “Silent Night Lonely Nights”.  I have always wanted to record an all new and original Christmas song, something that will sound like a classic favorite, and be played for generations to come.  Well gang, It is now complete and coming out next week Friday. More on that in a minute, but the story behind this song is very exciting and I wanted to share it with you. (you can purchase “Silent Night, Lonely Nights” NOW by clicking HERE)

My inspiration to get an original Christmas song recorded this year, began with a trip to Nashville and Memphis to visit the legendary Bluebird cafe and to see Elvis Presley’s Graceland Mansion last year at Christmas time and you couldn’t ask for a better backdrop than that to inspire a song-writer and her producer.

When we arrived at the Bluebird Cafe, I was in awe…it looks EXACTLY like what you see in the TV Show Nashville.

Maria Herz, Shelley Pieken and Ron Starr at the Bluebid Cafe

On this night, I had the honor of meeting 3 time grammy nominated Composer, Shelly Pieken (What a Girl Wants and ‘Bitch’) ,  Randy Brooks (Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer) and a few others, we were in for a treat as they were only going to perform Christmas songs.

When the performance was over, I got a chance to talk to Shelly and Randy and on my way out, my producer looked at me and we both said almost at the same time, “We need to release our own original Christmas song”.  Ron set a goal that 2018 would be the year to accomplish this, but we needed material.  I gave Shelly and Randy my card, and Shelly signed me up for her blog, where shortly after I received one of her posts describing the proper way to write a Christmas song with the key ingredient being, “you have to include Jingle bells in the song”.  So, the next morning as the sun came up, we made the next part of our pilgrimage on this musical road trip and we drove off to Memphis, TN, to visit Elvis Presley’s Graceland…I was shocked at how beautiful his home is, especially decked out for Xmas.  I’ve always liked Elvis, but was not totally aware at just how many Christmas songs he recorded and how many fans still come day in and day out, year round and write on the wall outside his home.  He is still missed by scores of music lovers around the globe. (you can purchase “Silent Night, Lonely Nights” NOW by clicking HERE)

Time marched on, and the rest of this story is very fateful as to how it took shape.  A few months ago, my producer met an attorney and saw a guitar in  his office and asked him…”so your a musician”?  He then started playing guitar and showing Ron just how many songs he had already written.  Ron asked him if he had ever written a Christmas song and he said yes…so he played a bit of it and on their next meeting played a recorded scratch demo, and Ron fell in love with the song.  He immediately asked John if we could license it and if John would play guitar on our recording session.  One thing about Ron is he is great at seeing and hearing a finished product in his head at the outset.  As soon as Ron heard the demo he was telling me how he could hear and see the finished product, visualizing the upright bass and his vision for this to be a beautiful jazz combo sound, like Michael Buble or  Frank Sinatra with a big band behind them.

So off to Gremlen Studios we went, first Ron had a rehearsal with the musicians, then a full night of tracking sessions for the rhythm section, and this is where things looked like we would never get the song off the ground.  The studio crew had a lot of technical difficulties and could not get the inputs and headphones situated.  Finally 3.5 hours into the session, they started playing.  After a little warming up, I showed up at the session with my puppy Labrador Sandy…and according to the musicians, it was like flipping a switch to On.  Our band “The Romantiques”, just clicked and like magic, the song was just flowing perfectly.  It only took a couple of takes to track the basic rhythm to the song, and the rest of the night was spent laying in strings, horns, and in the wee hours of the morning, Josh Beatty, who waited all night to lay down his sax solo, on his very last take….created one of the most beautiful jazz/blues saxophone solo’s I’ve ever heard.  So “Silent Night, Lonely Nights” has come to life, exactly like Ron planned it.  An old school duet that will be a New “classic” at Christmastime that can be played over and over and still sound fresh and exciting, and just like Shelly Pieken advised…..with Jingle Bells!!  Enjoy a little slide show of images from the recording sessions. You can order “Silent Night, Lonely Nights” right now by clicking HERE

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  • Laura Kammer says:

    Amazing story! You go John Mack! I have been to The Bluebird Cafe an amazing place where dreams begin

    • Maria Herz says:

      Hi Laura, thanks for the post. Yes, music is amazing, and it was a neat way this all came about. We just need it on the radio, only a few weeks to have a shot…Thanks Again


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