David Byrne – “The Fat Man’s Comin'”
A decade ago David Byrne and St. Vincent released their collaborative album Love This Giant. The sessions for the album yielded the foundation of an original Byrne song about Santa Claus called “The Fat Man’s Comin’,” which Byrne completed with composer and arranger Jherek Bischoff in 2013, the same year Byrne sang “Eyes” on Bischoff’s album Composed. Byrne performed the song live at a Bischoff event in 2014, and today he has finally released a studio recording.
In a statement accompanying “The Fat Man’s Comin’,” Byrne says he has been waiting to release the song as a benefit for some cause. He’s decided to use it as a fundraiser for his own nonprofit online news magazine Reasons To Be Cheerful. It’s on sale today exclusively through Bandcamp, which is waiving its share of sales today for the monthly Bandcamp Friday promotion. Until the end of this year, “The Fat Man’s Comin'” can be purchased for an amount of your choosing, with a $1 minimum price.
Here’s Byrne’s statement on the track:
I always wanted to write a holiday song. I wouldn’t call it a Christmas song, as the visitation of Santa (formerly known as St. Nicholas, who mainly did punishing) seems to have evolved to be a more secular consumer moment than a religious or spiritual affair.
I believe the foundation of this music might have been written at the same time as the collaboration I did with St. Vincent a few years ago, but somehow a literal view of the Santa phenomena was what came out. It wasn’t right for Annie and me – the story of a fat man in rather odd attire who breaks into people’s homes and leaves mysterious packages.
I’d worked with Jherek before and enlisted him to arrange and record the “orchestra,” which I wanted to sound sort of old-school creepy. The old song “Teddy Bears Picnic” may have been a reference.
Back then, I thought I’d use the song as a means to raise money for a good cause, but to draw attention to this thing I thought it might need a visual, so I storyboarded a video for the song which eventually ended up getting shelved.
But maybe helping celebrate another year of Reasons To Be Cheerful might be a good reason to resurrect this song, and let the storyboards allow folks to imagine what the video might have been.
Enjoy and thanks for listening/watching
Listen below, and watch the video and/or buy the song at Bandcamp.