Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring

Jesu-Joy-BadgeOne of my all time favorite Bach songs, it is not typically used as a Christmas piece, but since I have heard a number of other Christmas records include it, I figured “why not”?

This song evolved stylistically as I was working on it, and I decided to keep much of that evolution in place, scratching my apparent itch to include multiple genres in the same song. It starts out with a bouncy piano figure in the left hand, soon to be doubled by electric bass, which was inspired by a Flim and the BBs song. I originally was torn between putting “Angels We Have Heard On High” atop this versus “Jesu, Joy”, but decided the latter would be more interesting.

An early idea for a bridge, a piece of original music, was scrapped after I realized that there were already two bridges in Bach’s piece, so the bridge outtake was spun off to a separate song which I eventually named “Dreaming of Snow”. Meanwhile, the ideas came fast: a piano solo section that starts out as a west-coast smooth jazz shuffle and then becomes a full on rocker, the first half of the Bach bridge taking on a Beatlesque “Your Mother Should Know” feel, and then the piece de resistance, a whole gaggle of vintage synthesizer sounds to finish off the bridge, eventually becoming a tribute to Wendy Carlos’ classic record from the 60s, “Switched On Bach”. I discovered just yesterday that she performed “Jesu, Joy” on her record–I don’t recall ever hearing it.
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For awhile I was concerned that this arrangement would sound too Mannheim Steamroller and actually checked the 43 Christmas records they put out to make sure there wasn’t an arrangement of “Jesu, Joy”  that was a shuffle along the order of their hit cover of “Deck the Halls”. By the way, they have not actually put out 43 Christmas records–it’s more like eight.

Production wise, I assembled all the parts at my home studio first and then went into the studio to cut the drums and bass with Bryon Atterberry and Marc Miller, respectively. For electric guitar, I hit up my Canadian friend Brian Thiessen. I drove up to his house in Abbotsford, British Columbia, about 2 1/2 hours away from Seattle. I have known Brian for over 20 years and have done a lot of projects with him. Unlike his work on “Passage”, which was more organic in nature, I had specific parts in mind for him on this record, and he delivered beautifully.

Publishing: Traditional/Public Domain based on Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. Original music by Kelly Carpenter, © 2013 KelSongs / Kelly Carpenter Music (ASCAP). All rights reserved.

Recording credits: Bryon Atterberry: drums / Marc Miller: bass, fretless bass / Brian Thiessen: electric guitars / Kelly C: piano, organ, programming. Drums & Bass recorded September 2013 at 57th Street Productions, Monroe, WA by Scott Anderson.

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