Songs We Love: Daniel Martin Moore, ‘It’s Christmas’
by Piotr Orlov
Another Christmas season brings another set of fanned “War on Christmas” flames, be they in the form of redesigned Starbucks cups, heavy-handed rules from local educators (and right-wing pundits who exploit them), or weirder House of Representatives resolutions. I would like to think that it is for just such people, unwieldy and committed to a stringent definition of the season’s meaning, that Daniel Martin Moore, one of Louisville’s “monsters of Folk,” has written the wonderful, reflective miniature, “It’s Christmas.”
Like the season, there’s a lot going on here — vibrato guitar, organ and Wurlitzer, strings and vibes — and it’s all done in the service of a simple and peaceful atmosphere, embodying a mood of contemplation. DMM is almost whispering the words in a way that not even a mouse is likely to stir during this performance. But the heart-strings are awake for the tugging.
And what is Moore singing about, in this song that not only invokes the embattled holiday in its title, but whose chorus begins with a call to “prayers”? It is a set of multi-faceted and universal recognitions — of the world’s majesty, of the similarity between the lights of the stars and the street-lamps, of the many self-evident and universal truths of our lives, of the need for thanks and peace and hope and love. Make no mistake, this is a secular Christmas tune, but it is also based in faith. One that reminds me of a humanist couple’s seasonal musical invocation: “Happy Xmas (War Is Over). (If you want it.)”
“It’s Christmas” is out now on OK Recordings/Sofaburn Records and available on iTunes.