Song of the Day 12/23: Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, “The Light of Christmas Day”

Filed in Arts and Entertainment by on December 23, 2018

I thought I had heard every Christmas song worth hearing until yesterday, when a Spotify search for “Alison Krauss” and “Christmas” introduced me (eventually, well down the play list) to this duet with Robert Plant, “The Light of Christmas Day,” that I didn’t even know existed.

Krauss and Plant teamed up for their album of covers, “Raising Sand,” in 2007, but plans for a followup died when a bid to write together in 2009 fizzled. But at some point in 2015 he stopped off in Nashville to record “The Light of Christmas Day” with Krauss, with Hollywood soundtrack whiz T-Bone Burnett at the control board. The tune was released that Christmas over the closing credits of “Love the Coopers,” a holiday-themed ensemble dramedy that, despite a stellar cast, sank unwatched and unloved, taking its soundtrack with it into oblivion.

I don’t know the story behind this song, or who brought it to whose attention to get it into the hands of Krauss and Plant. It was written by a guy named Charles Duncan, a screenwriter by trade who also performs in a folk duo with his daughter as Ranchers For Peace around his home in San Luis Obispo County. Burnett’s touch is unmistakable, backing the supple harmonies with some echo-drenched Chris Isaak-style guitar. There’s not a lot to the tune, but then there’s not a lot to the tune of “Silent Night,” either. The lyrics demonstrate the power of simplicity — only one word is longer than two syllables, but together they manage to convey the mix of hope and melancholy this season of short sunshine brings out in “the faithful and the ones who stray” alike.

About the Author ()

Who wants to know?

Comments are closed.