“I guess I’m obsessed with writing Christmas songs,” admits Kristian Bush, whose new holiday single “Thinking About Drinking for Christmas” shines a light on the boozy place where Yuletide and, perhaps, Yuengling overlap. (Listen to the song below.)
While the song marks his first holiday release as a solo artist, Bush has been writing Christmas music for decades. It’s become a holiday tradition. Every winter, he sits down with his acoustic guitar and hammers out something new, whether it’s one of the five originals that appeared on his seasonal album with Sugarland, Gold and Green, or something that simply goes into the vault. “Thinking About Drinking for Christmas” was too good to pass up, though, prompting Bush — who co-wrote the tune with Chris Young and Brett James over Thanksgiving weekend in 2013, while all three were in Atlanta for Bush’s annual end-of-year concerts at Eddie’s Attic — to record the song earlier this year.
“Writing Christmas music feels like you’re writing for a movie, except you’re writing for everyone‘s movie,” he says. “The cool thing about Christmas is that it has a soundtrack. There’s a day when you go into the Gap, and the only music they’re playing is Christmas music. You get into the car and turn on the radio, and the only thing they’re playing is Christmas music. It’s like the entire world suddenly flips on that soundtrack, and I want to be a part of that.”
For inspiration, Bush look a tongue-in-cheek look at his own family, even tossing a reference to his real-life Aunt Alice into the second verse. “She was the kind of aunt that always hugged you too hard and wouldn’t stop talking, you know?” he says with a laugh. “There’s something about your family that can stress you out sometimes, but you still love them. You’re just not around them all year, and you don’t have the skill set to navigate them. Sometimes, you can start thinking about what’s gonna help you deal with all of that.”
Before making a beeline for the egg nog this Christmas, Bush will host a songwriter’s session at the Country Music Hall of Fame in downtown Nashville. Scheduled for December 5th, it’s the latest in a year’s worth of gigs that showcase Bush not only as an artist, but as a songwriter, too. He plans to continue treading the fine line between those two areas.
“It’s been a cool dual experience in my career; I get to exist as the songwriter, and I also get to exist as the artist,” explains Bush, who’s already three months deep into songwriting sessions, possibly for a follow-up to this year’s excellent Southern Gravity. “It’s not too common to have both of those jobs be successful jobs. There are great songwriters who have moved on to be great artists, and vice versa, but there are few people who can coach me and mentor me into this space — to help me become a viable version of both. So whenever I have the chance to play a gig as the songwriter, rather than the artist, I grab it with both hands.”