"I always wanted to write a holiday song," David Byrne writes in a statement about "The Fat Man's Comin'," which he just released for Bandcamp Friday. "I wouldn't call it a Christmas song, as the visitation of Santa (formerly known as St. Nicholas, who mainly did punishing) seems to have evolved to be a more secular consumer moment than a religious or spiritual affair."
Byrne co-produced the song with Jherek Bischoff, who did the song's sweeping orchestral arrangements. It's a bit of a "lost" track that Byrne says dates from when they worked on his album with St Vincent. It's definitely not your average holiday song -- there are no sleigh bells or other standard season sounds. Instead, it's an "old school creepy" neo-classical ode to "The funky man with the fur trimmed collar." You can listen to the song and watch the video, featuring Byrne's drawings, below. Proceeds from downloads benefits Byrne's Reasons To Be Cheerful nonprofit online news magazine.
Here's more from Byrne on the song
I believe the foundation of this music might have been written at the same time as the collaboration I did with St. Vincent a few years ago, but somehow a literal view of the Santa phenomena was what came out. It wasn't right for Annie and me - the story of a fat man in rather odd attire who breaks into people's homes and leaves mysterious packages.
I'd worked with Jherek before and enlisted him to arrange and record the "orchestra," which I wanted to sound sort of old-school creepy. The old song "Teddy Bears Picnic" may have been a reference.
Back then, I thought I'd use the song as a means to raise money for a good cause, but to draw attention to this thing I thought it might need a visual, so I storyboarded a video for the song which eventually ended up getting shelved.
But maybe helping celebrate another year of Reasons To Be Cheerful might be a good reason to resurrect this song, and let the storyboards allow folks to imagine what the video might have been.
David Byrne was supposed to play Steve Earle's annual John Henry's Friends benefit concert at Town Hall on December 19 but that has been postponed. Says David, "I was truly looking forward to joining Stephen and his friend Terry Allen in this show- and supporting the school's better understanding for neurodivergent folks of all ages. Had songs picked out and everything, but an unexpected medical situation was discovered and sadly the treatment is scheduled the week of the show. It can't be changed."
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