Songsmith Rachel Garlin premieres the video for her latest offering, “Winter Fuel (Good King Wenceslas Revisited)” via Americana Highways – an original adaptation of the holiday classic, “Good King Wenceslas.” “Who doesn't need a little more brotherly/sisterly/siblingly love in their city?” asks Garlin. “Winter Fuel’ is based on a fleeting moment of connection between humans in a city.”
"This is a fantastic imaginative adaptation of the traditional song to a contemporary vision, because, for one thing, Garlin really puts her own signature style on it, while balancing the familiar aspects of the original," raves Americana Highways. "But she really excels at bringing the song’s message into focus on a stark reality of today. Scenes of comfort in a snow-covered cabin, homeless encampment tents and explaining poverty to an inquisitive young child. Winter fuel. Cardboard boxes. Our neighbors. Longing for connection. An exchange of flower drawings. In the world of re-visioned holiday songs, this one is two thumbs up."
Produced by Garlin’s frequent collaborator, Johnny Flaugher (Larkin Poe, Rita Wilson, Joseph Arthur, Hailey Reinhart) “Winter Fuel” features performances by Garlin (guitar, vocals), Flaugher (bass), David Levita (guitar), Deron Johnson (keys), Beth Goodfellow (drums and vocals) and the San Francisco Boys Chorus (vocals). The video finds Garlin playing acoustic guitar next to a wood burning stove. Soon, her five year old is there peering out the window and drawing. By the time the bands kicks in, we are taking in scenes of the city along with images of nature. The songwriter responds to questions from her little one: “What’s that crowd of tents I see? Is that someone’s dwelling?” And these inquisitive questions drive forth a song that holds no answers but offers a portal to human connection nonetheless.
“On wintery holiday nights, my mom would bring out the caroling books — homemade stapled booklets of handwritten lyrics — and we’d step into the crisp night with a chorus of neighbors and sing up and down the street,” recalls Garlin. "Good King Wenceslas’ was a favorite, not because we followed the story, but because we got to sing triumphantly about the mysterious Feast of Stephen and deliver lyrics like hence and dinted (with feeling)! It was a good time.”
“Recently, I was rummaging through the attic looking for twinkle lights, only to find the handwritten lyric booklets from my childhood. I picked out ‘Good King Wenceslas’ on guitar and my five-year-old immediately started acting out the song. Three generations of girls/women singing 'Good King Wenceslas' was framed by our San Francisco neighborhood passing by."
"I slowed it way down and created a refrain so she could sing along. The verses became a modern re-telling of the carol, inspired by a fleeting interaction with an artist in our city. And so became’ Winter Fuel’, an original adaptation, derived from the 1853 song. I invite you to sing along with us too.”
Rachel Garlin will release a new LP in 2023 and will perform select dates throughout the year.