Two of the biggest voices from the early 2000s, Jamie O’Neal and Ty Herndon, have joined together to bring us the original Christmas song, “Merry Christmas Baby.” Last year O’Neal put out a memorable Christmas record, Spirit & Joy which I have added to my collection of favorite Christmas CDs.
This year O’Neal has released a deluxe edition of her holiday album which includes the original song, “Merry Christmas Baby” and a cover of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Both songs follow the same theme of missing someone you love at Christmastime.
She advised, “I co-wrote ‘Merry Christmas Baby’ with singer/songwriter Allen Mark Russell and knew it was a special song. I could instantly feel it being a duet and wanted it to have a rockin’, uptempo feel even though the song is wistful lyric-wise. It’s all about missing someone so much that Christmas doesn’t feel the same.”
Even with the upbeat tempo, once you hear the lyrics, you know it is melancholy. It just ain’t the same without you here/It’s hard to feel the joy without you near. As much as many of us enjoy the holiday season, it’s a fateful fact that some do not because they are missing someone. This song concedes that reality.
Because Ty Herndon was going to play the Franklin Theater with her on December 8th, it was only natural that he be the one to duet with her.
He told me, “Jamie has been a dear friend for a long time, and when she sent me this song she wrote, it really hit home. The holidays can be a joyful time — but they can also be a bittersweet time as we reminisce on those who we’ve lost in one way or another. It’s important that we recognize some folks are struggling this time of year, and I think this song captured that perfectly. I really appreciate Jamie asking me to be a part of it.”
O’Neal confirmed, “'Merry Christmas Baby’ is still beautiful because there are all kinds of reasons, and not all of them are horrible, why you can't be with the people you love at Christmas. It just might be circumstances or work or whatever. But people want that acknowledged that while everybody's having a jolly good time, that there's some sadness.”
But what takes the song to the next level is the remarkable chemistry between O’Neal and Herndon. The two have been wanting to record together for a while and this song showcases their innate talent and complete compatibility as artists.
"Merry Christmas Baby" is a unique and emotionally resonant addition that you will want to include in your holiday music catalog. I also highly recommend the deluxe version of O’Neal’s Spirit & Joy because the whole album is that good.
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