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HomeInterviewsCandi Carpenter's Merle Haggard Cover Captures the Tough Side of the Holidays

Candi Carpenter’s Merle Haggard Cover Captures the Tough Side of the Holidays

"The holiday season isn’t easy for everyone and I think Merle Haggard’s lyrics beautifully capture that side of Christmas."

When Candi Carpenter was picking a Christmas song to cover, she chose one that “beautifully” captures the tough side of the holidays.

Carpenter has been on a break from the spotlight while trying to focus on her debut album. Lucky for us, she reemerged to release her cover of Merle Haggard’s “If We Make It Through December.” Nashville Noise sat down with the singer to discuss the cover, why she doesn’t do New Year’s resolutions and what we can expect from her forthcoming EP.

Affirmation Records

Nashville Noise: First of all, this cover is gorgeous! But why did you choose to cover this particular song?
Candi Carpenter: Thank you very much! Growing up backstage at the Grand Ole Opry, I’ve always been influenced by traditional country music. When my producer, Ron Fair, first approached me about recording a holiday standard, I wanted to choose something close to my heart. The holiday season isn’t easy for everyone and I think Merle Haggard’s lyrics beautifully capture that side of Christmas.

Obviously, this is a Haggard original. Do you ever get nervous when you cover a song from a legendary artist like Merle?
CC: It’s always intimidating to offer a new take on someone else’s song. I just tried to throw myself into the character he wrote about and offer the most honest performance I could.

This is a unique song to cover in a sea of cliche holiday songs (don’t get me wrong, I love those too). What are some other unique holiday songs on your Christmas playlist?
CC: Well, there’s certainly a song I’ve grown to hate hearing. Every year, on Christmas morning, my boyfriend blares a Gene Autry song called “Santa’s Comin’ in a Whirlybird.” He doesn’t just play it once. He plays it 100 times. I’m sure it’s a lovely song but he ruined it for me.

Do you have any big holiday traditions?
CC: My biggest holiday tradition is panicking because I realize at the last second that I forgot to order everyone’s gifts in time.

What’s your New Year’s resolution?
CC: I try not to do resolutions. I just try to be a better person, and a better friend to myself and others, a little bit more every day.

Lastly, you’ve been working hard on your debut album/EP. What can you tell us about that?
CC: This EP is everything I ever hoped it would be. It’s been years in the making. When I look back now, I think was waiting to find a producer who truly understood who I am as an artist, writer and performer. Ron Fair really gets me. We’ve been locked away in the studio for over six months working hard on a project that’s honestly hard to describe.

He calls it “Country Lady Gaga,” and I think it sounds like Freddie Mercury if Queen had been a country band. The storytelling is true to my traditional country roots but the production is soaring. We’re actually putting an orchestra on most of the songs! I can’t believe I have this opportunity and I’m unbelievably thankful that next year, I’ll finally get to show everyone the real me.

Stay tuned for more news about Carpenter’s EP and listen to her Haggard cover below. Like what you hear? Download your own copy here.

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