Holiday Music In The Most Trying Time

Updated: May 4

It has been the most trying year in our lifetime. It’s a time when words fail to make sense of the suffering, confusion, disillusionment, and fear. Everyone “seems fine” until one remembers that a loved one, a friend, or an acquaintance will not see the new year.


While words fall short, somehow music allows us to go further, even for just a few steps at a time. People who have never touched an instrument started learning and playing. Some discovered voices and found the resolve to sing to a sad and weary world. The unprecedented times became a stage for people to create, to inspire, and to hope.


I am reminded of that powerful scene from Shawshank Redemption when Andy broke into the warden’s office and played an aria for all the inmates to hear.


“It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made those walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free.”


Music has that power.


And so, in this most difficult holiday season, Sheryl and I are again leaning into that power hoping that we could provide comfort not only for ourselves but also for those who found time to listen to our humble musical offering.


Two Holidays Classics in Two Languages




We chose to cover two beautiful holiday songs in two languages: Last Christmas by Wham in English and Miss Kita Kung Christmas by Susan Fuentes in Filipino.


Two songs about heartbreak, loneliness, longing, and the dream of finding the right one. Sheryl chose Last Christmas, and I chose Miss Kita Kung Christmas. Both were produced in typical Scarlet Gum fashion – all electronic.


Wham’s classic is pure synth pop created with the fascinating combination of TR 909, Linn Drum samples, Roland Jupiter 8 and Moog Grandmother sounds. Sheryl and I share vocal duties in the chorus as she owns the intro and all the verses. It’s a cute number with a nice groove. I especially love the stereo delay on Sheryl’s vocals. It’s very trance.


Miss Kita Kung Christmas is synth dream pop at its core. From Sheryl’s subdued yet powerful breathy vocals (mid frequency boosts and almost zero bass and loads of reverb) to the swirly, slightly detuned textures of the Nave wave table synth to the spacey filter sweeps of the Moog Grandmother to the heavy yet distant TR 808 drum sound, the track is utterly sad and emotional. I love it.


It’s been a hard year indeed and we need to recognize and embrace it as such. We cannot shrug it away and sweep it under the rug. But we also need to embrace the good things that happened and helped us get through. From cooking trends to viral funny videos to horticulture to music.


Happy Holidays to all and may 2021 bring us comfort, joy, and a renewed hope in all things that make life worth living.


#LastChristmas #ScarletGum #ShawshankRedemption