‘It’s Love On Christmas Day’ — Smithereens’ Jim Babjak dishes about new song
Christmas has always meant a lot to the Smithereens. Last year he released a beautiful song called "Christmas Morning" written by Jim Babjak and contained all four original band members including Pat DiNizio who passed away in 2017.
This year Babjak has penned a new song of the season called "It's Love On Christmas Day" which we talked about both on New Jersey 101.5 and through email.
What did you get the inspiration for 'It's Love On Christmas Day'
"I wrote this back in 1995. The key line is, 'And Jesus can’t be bought and sold today'. It was inspired by the commercialization of Christmas and people just aimlessly walking around in the malls looking for some junk to buy for their friends and family. Just being with my loved ones is all I need. Maybe, some homemade cookies. Ok, some wine also."
This comes after releasing 'Christmas Morning' last year. What is it about Christmas that means so much to you?
"Christmas to me is always a special day to be with your loved ones to reflect on all the positive things in our lives. Being grateful and spreading love. I think of the times it was hard for me, but never let it show”.
What was it like growing up spending Christmas in Carteret? What are some of your best memories?
"Growing up in Carteret I remember my parents having great parties on Christmas Eve and my mom would cook up a feast. My friends were always welcome! Then we would cap the night off by going to midnight mass at our Church."
Kurt Reil of The Grip Weeds co-produced it with you. You guys work together a lot. What is it he brings out in you?
"Kurt is great in letting me know if I’m being lazy. He forces the best performances out of me. He is also meticulous with every aspect of the recording. After all, anything I record will be there forever long after I’m gone".
On the flip side, you take love in the opposite direction with "Christmas Eve Without Your Love". How did you come to write that?
"This came to me as pure fiction. I started writing it as a story of a failed relationship during Christmas time with the character regretting the breakup. I think it’s one of my best vocal performances. It captures a heartfelt, sad emotion. These types of songs seem to help the listener that may be going through tough times of their own."
Did you ever have a Christmas Eve without love?
"Always with love"
What's the best Christmas you've ever had?
"It will always be the next one."
What would your Christmas wish be for New Jersey?
"Lower my frickin property taxes so I can stay in NJ when I’m a grandfather! I love this state and don’t want to go anywhere else."
Jim’s new Christmas record comes following a period of sadness and ultimately, a triumph for The Smithereens. After vocalist’s Pat DiNizio untimely passing in 2017, founding members – Jim Babjak, Dennis Diken, and Mike Mesaros - decided to carry on their shared musical legacy with guest vocalists, including Marshall Crenshaw, Susan Cowsill of The Cowsills, and Robin Wilson of the Gin Blossoms.
In 2019, The Smithereens were honored by the Grammy Museum in the “New Jersey Legends” exhibit and inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame. And now, in 2021, they’re celebrating their 41st anniversary as a band, with new music and more touring to come in 2022.
“It’s Love on Christmas Day” backed with “Christmas Eve, Without Your Love” is released on The Smithereens’ own Tollie Records label. The limited edition 7" vinyl 45 RPM single is available via The Smithereens’ Store.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday-Thursday from 7pm-11pm. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.