Americana Highways brings you this premiere of Victoria Bailey’s early seasonal contribution to the Christmastime musical canon: her interpretation of The Band’s “Christmas Must Be Tonight.” Bailey’s “Christmas Must Be Tonight” was recorded at Jazz Cats Recording Studio in Long Beach, CA and mixed and mastered by Jonny Bell. The lineup is Victoria Bailey on vocals and guitar; Sean Kibler on fiddle; Philip Glenn on mandolin; Eric Roebuck on lead guitar; and Jeff Livingstone on bass.
Here is our mini chat with Victoria Bailey, with the song link beneath it:
AH: What is the story behind recording this song? What made you want to cover it? Are you a fan of the original by The Band? Are they a favorite group of yours?
V: It’s been a dream come true to track a holiday song. I love Christmas so much, and I am always ready for the early decorations put out at Target three months ahead of time, ha ha! The Band is one of my all-time favorites, and this song is so special to me. It is not a well-known Christmas tune, although it should be, and it was such an honor to shine light on this track and to put our own twist on it as a band as well!
I have been so inspired by The Band for quite some time now. I love that there are two completely different versions of this song, and I’m very curious as to why they chose that. It is an outtake track on their Northern Lights, Southern Cross album, as well as on their album Islands, both versions sung by the coolest, Rick Danko. Garth, Robbie, Richard, and Levon come beaming through, too. I think what I love most about this song is the purity of the story and vocals, as well as how it separates itself from mainstream Christmas tunes. This song brings me to such a peaceful place, and it is a piece of The Band that ties in their faith so beautifully.
AH: What kind of a vibe were you going for on this song when you recorded it? Do you think you ended up with a song that sounds like you expected it to sound? If so, how so, and if not, what’s different about it?
VB: I definitely wanted to put a “Victoria” twist to the cover of this song. My band and I recorded it live around one mic, acoustic in-studio. There was so much beautiful energy in the room with the back-up vocals and string instruments, and it truly did feel like Christmas! We’ve had a lot of time together in the studio in the past few years working on my record and other projects, so this was such a special end-cap to the year for all of us. It turned out exactly how I wanted – raw and live – and it just really represents who we are as a band and who I am as an artist, as well as also trying to emulate all of the things I love most about The Band, too, and why they inspire me so much.
AH: When did you record this song? Was it hard to get into the holiday spirit at that time of year?
VB: We recorded it on a SUPER hot day in the middle of summer! Ha ha! So it was definitely a little tricky to get into the Christmas mindset at first. But we pulled through, and I kept saying “Merry Christmas!” throughout day to keep people on track. : )
Pre-order/pre-save link: https://ffm.to/6vd2jb. This could easily be your “go to” Christmas song this year. Just lovely.