Interview: Kacey Musgraves Wishes Fans a ‘Willie Nice Christmas’ With Holiday Album
Ask anyone, and they can probably name their favorite Christmas album -- Kacey Musgraves included; from Bing Crosby to the Beach Boys, the "Biscuits" singer grew up with music at the center of the holiday season. Those classics that informed her childhood also inspired A Very Kacey Christmas, a holiday album that pays genuine tribute to beloved yuletide songs ... with a modern twist.
Musgraves has been teasing A Very Kacey Christmas since June. The 12-track project is fun and festive, and includes some of Musgraves' favorite songs: "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and "Feliz Navidad," among others.
"There's so many great classic Christmas songs, it was really a challenge to figure out which ones from my childhood memories I wanted to include," Musgraves tells The Boot. "Ultimately, we just decided to include my favorites. I wanted to have a good mix of familiar Christmas songs, because I knew I would have four originals on there too, so I wanted there to be a mix of something new to add to your Christmas collection and then something that you recognize."
If fans of traditional Christmas ballads are worried about Musgraves changing things up, they shouldn't be: Every original track on A Very Kacey Christmas was strongly influenced by some of the best-loved holiday performers, finding roots in Bing Crosby, Gene Autry, Nat King Cole, the Beach Boys and even traditional Hawaiian music; "there's a bit of everything on this," Musgraves notes, but all that "everything" blends perfectly -- even when the song is kind of sad.
"I knew I wanted to write a depressing, sad Christmas song," Musgraves says with a laugh, referring to the original "Christmas Makes Me Cry" -- but she quickly adds that the song really has just as much universal appeal as the fun ones. "There is an element of that to the holidays that no one I feel like wants to talk about. It can be a sad time for a lot of people, and I wanted to include that sentiment."
Thankfully, "Christmas Makes Me Cry" doesn't bring A Very Kacey Christmas down for long; it's joined by a few collaborations that will lift spirits this holiday season as well. The Quebe Sisters bring their unique Western fiddles to "Let It Snow," and Leon Bridges adds soulful style to a Musgraves original, "Present Without a Bow," his smooth, bluesy vocals meshing with Musgraves' sweet Texas twang. Both the Quebe Sisters and Bridges hail from the Lone Star State as well, and Musgraves says that it was "cool to have some Texan power with me" on the record.
That's especially true when it comes to another fellow Texan, Willie Nelson. After all, you can't have a song called "A Willie Nice Christmas" without the Red Headed Stranger himself.
"I was just driving around one day and thought, 'Have a Willie nice Christmas,' and it just sounded like something we could have fun with Willie on," Musgraves recalls of the album's fourth track. "I mean, he's the best of the best; he's so humble and down to earth, and he's just a nice guy who exudes peace and happiness.
"And he just loves music. He loves country music, he loves all kinds of music, and I think that is what has kept him going for so long, you know," Musgraves continues of Nelson. "It's really refreshing to see when you go to one of his shows, and it's not much talking, but it's a lot of great songs."
Musgraves is also excited to show off some creativity with A Very Kacey Christmas' packaging. As with her freshman and sophomore releases, Musgraves' holiday project will be cut on vinyl -- green vinyl, in fact.
"I think music sounds best on a vinyl record," says Musgraves, who is record collector herself. "It's almost like an event. When you listen to a vinyl, you listen to the whole thing, front to back ... So I really take pride in making that important."
And now that Musgraves has conquered the Christmas-album world? She's not exactly sure what she'll do next, but that doesn't really bother her.
"I'm going to take some time and write and get creative and figure that out," she says. "I think it's kind of an exciting thing to be uncertain creatively; it kind of opens itself up to be down for whatever."
A Very Kacey Christmas is currently available on Amazon and iTunes. To celebrate its release, Musgraves will also be embarking on her first-ever Christmas tour; the A Very Kacey Christmas Tour kicks off right after Thanksgiving and wraps up right before Christmas.
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