“Let us have music for Christmas. Sound the trumpet of joy and rebirth; let each of us try, with a soul in our hearts, to bring peace to men on earth”…..Mildred L. Jarrell
Alan Frew and Glass Tiger have just released a beautifully relevant and touching Holiday song that would make even the plainest faces come alive with promise. The enchanting song and elegant video evokes a joy that fills your heart with a magical celebration that promotes the light of love to those who need it most.
Glass Tiger, the Grammy nominated Canadian faction formed in 1983 released their debut album “The Thin Red Line” which took the planet by storm like a raging tsunami with their single “Dont Forget Me (When I’m Gone).” The album went quadruple platinum in Canada and gold in the US.
Glass Tiger Frontman Scottish/Canadian Alan Frew is a Singer, songwriter, actor, author and visionary who knows that the world shifts around us while we shape ourselves to fit. I spoke with Alan regarding his new song “Happy Holidays” and his incredible career….
Tell me what inspired your holiday song and why you did a holiday release?
People have been asking for years why we didn’t do a holiday song. I just felt like it has been done so much. I mean how many times can you hear someone else singing a “Winter Wonderland” or “Frosty the Snowman”, whatever? Then of course the world spiraled into this travesty that we are all in called Covid and people started to realize that we were all in trouble. Covid has brought not only the best out in people as we’ve seen some incredible humanity around us. It has also brought some nastiness out in the world as well as turmoil….I do a little show online on instagram live. I used to do it every day but now I do it once a week. I can tell just by doing that that people are hurting. So Sam and I (we are the foundation of Glass Tiger, the ones that keep it going), decided to put out a song for the season, but “why don’t we do an original? A, we get to make an original that inspires us and B if any of it clicks with people and they are loving it, then we know it’s not a Bing Crosby cover. So, we approached it like I would with any album. You know I always imagine that I’m going to write the next number one hit with everything I do. The music that we came up with for this album you can easily take the holiday lyrics and you can replace it with any lyric that you want, and any kind of song that you want. So that’s the way we approached it and then of course I went inside and started to think, “what did I want to talk about?” I kept coming back to the topics of love, kindness, caring, sharing, equality, and I tried to make that the core message of this holiday CD. People are responding incredibly favorable and we shall see.
I love it and I normally don’t like Christmas songs.
I didn’t want to hammer anything into anyone from any other place. I mean we are so divided socially, economically so the last thing they need is my interpretation of something that they’ve heard 1000 times. I thought most people won’t turn their back on something that’s talking about “hey we’re all in this together.” That’s where I came from.
A lot of artists believe that this time of isolation as we are sequestered that people are actually being very creative. What’s your view on that?
It’s a very reflective time. I don’t mind telling you, but I’ve spent quite a lot of time alone because my daughter moved over to a school in Europe and my wife has been based over there and I’m getting ready to go join them. But I’ve spent a lot of time alone this year, in quarantine, isolation, so it became really reflective. I think about my career and I think, am I ever going to get the chance to go out and perform live for a real audience again? So what do I do, I retreat and I write music, I’m working on a second book, I paint, and for me personally it’s become incredibly creative. My little podcast is getting bigger and I’ve been asked if I want to monetize it. I explained that I’m happy doing what I’m doing for now. But it’s all creative energy so I totally agree with the other artists. What else can we do but be creative? Otherwise you just curl up in a ball and give up.
Looking back to your incredible career, what was your reaction the first time you heard one of your songs on the radio?
It was so funny. It was 1986 we were told that it was going to launch on all the major radio stations in Toronto and in the Canadian region that we were listening to. We were told that no one was allowed to play it until 5 o’clock. My dad had three little transistor radios programmed to three different stations, and then we borrowed a couple from the neighbor. So, we had five radios all programmed to five different stations and ready to go. Well of course what happens at 4:55, the first radio station said “fuck it I’m going to get a jump on this.” So we had five different radio stations at five different points of the song and it was just like a combination of noise. My manager called and said that we had just sold 5000 singles and then he called back and said that we had sold 17,000. So that was like a big deal. Of course, it was “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone).” But I look back on my dad and how he was living vicariously through the music charts. Until the day he died anytime anything new came out if he could buy it in the store…even though I was getting a box of them sent…..he used to love to buy it in a store.
Have you had your ultimate stage fantasy yet?
Probably no. I’ve had an amazing career, but I’ve never, ever had a duet with Annie Lennox and I’ve never had a duet with Paul McCartney. But I have done wonderful things. I have performed for three people in a bar and I performed for 100,000 people at a summer stadium. I performed for hundreds of thousands of people live on a Latino broadcast and everything in between. It’s been fabulous.
Annie Lennox is great, I’ve interviewed her.
Well, if you ever talk to her she will know who Glass Tiger is and I have just the song I want to sing with her.
You are coming out with some new things?
For now, I am focusing on our holiday song. We’ve lost touch with the United States for many, many years and yet we’ve got some great fans there. We came through and played a little club in New York a couple years ago. It was low-key but even the people that were there were wondering where we’ve been and told us that they loved us. If it hadn’t been for Covid, we were going to join a little tour and we were going to go down south to do Texas and Arizona and California. Then of course Covid hit. We’ve got great fans in America. We always love coming to America and we loved American audiences but Covid has kind of put everybody on hold for that. I would love the opportunity to reach the American fans again.
If you could relay a message to your fans during these times what would you say?
I would say that now more than ever we realize the connection between music and the human condition. Where would we be without music? That includes your musicians as well. I turned to music to help me through these times so I would say to stay strong and to understand that we truly are all in this together. Unfortunately, music was one of the first major industries to go down and one of the last to be able to get up again, but we will, we will get up sooner than later. When I was a wee lad growing up the Beatles were everything to me. Now as a 64-year-old man driving my car wondering if I’m going to work again, I put on “I Am the Walrus” or “Penny Lane” or “Strawberry Fields”, and it just lifts my spirits. There are so many wonderful artists out there and there is enough room for everybody. We are all in it together and I think that when Covid is over you are going to see such a resurgence of the live music scene. It’s going to be amazing.
Watch the Happy Holidays music video here:
Photos by Alan Frew