Your Christmas will not be complete this year – or any year hereafter – without the dulcet tones of country superstar Buddy Goode and his new album, It’s a Buddy Goode Christmas, coming through your hi-fi stereo system. With tracks such as ‘Cheeses’, ‘Yellow Snow’, ‘Joseph the Chippy’ ‘A New Front Bum’, ‘She Pulls My Bonbon’ and ‘The Gingerbread Man’, it’s an instant classic [warning: those with religious sensitivities may not wish to read further].
With the release of this new LP Buddy is in high demand, but I was able to steal him away from the eggnog for a conversation about his new album, Christmas in general, and his search for love – or, at least, for the next Mrs Goode.
What does Christmas mean to Buddy Goode?
Christmas is about tinsel. It’s about mistletoe. It’s about puddin’. It’s about turkey. It’s about children. And it’s about gettin’ together with people you never see.
Are there people you never see who you’re looking forward to seeing at Christmas – or not?
Well, I’m actually not seeing anyone, so it’s gonna be a great Christmas. So I won’t be seeing anyone. It’s just me. I won’t be going anywhere. I’m just going to sit at home and listen to my Christmas album about a dozen times with a Christmas hat on. That’s my Christmas Day.
How is it possible, though, that one of the most popular men in country music is going to spend Christmas Day alone?
It’s a time to reflect, ya know? And I think the best way to be able to reflect on things, on your life and past loves, past conquests, is to spend that moment on your own. I think Christmas Day’s a special time to do that because everyone’s so caught up doin’ what they’re doin’ and goin’ where they’ve gotta go and bein’ a whole bunch of places, givin’ presents they don’t necessarily want to, to people they don’t want to to. So I think it’s the best day to sit at home, watch King of Kings, have a glass of Maison and just reflect.
Can you restrict yourself to just a glass?
It’s hard to get a case of Passion Pop these days so I’m going to limit myself to the one bottle of Maison.
Have you ever dressed up as Santa?
I did. I did. Once upon a time when I was just sixteen, at my local Baptist Church, the Fourteenth Chapter of the Baptists of Pennsylvania, and I was in the church choir, and what we did every Christmas Eve, we’d gather at the church – the whole community would come together – and we’d form a live nativity scene. One year I lost my Joseph outfit and I had to wear my Santa Claus outfit. It wasn’t quite appropriate but it was better than wearing a Hawaiian shirt. I thought it was the closest thing I could get. It was either go as a Christmas Elf or I could go as Santa, so I went as Santa. And no one seemed to notice.
Did the story of Joseph the Chippy inspire you either to become a chippy or become the father of the Messiah?
My attachment to that song is very dear. I have an affinity with chippies, labourers, and of course Joseph was the original chippy, the most famous carpenter of them all. In the song ‘Joseph the Chippy’, I was watching a documentary on Youtube one night – so it obviously has to be true – but the Bible doesn’t tell us what happened to Joseph and they went into it in great detail [in the documentary]. And I watched that before I watched an episode of Air Crash Investigations, so I may have got my wires crossed. Maybe some of the information got a little bit twisted. But I’m pretty sure it’s accurate.
I tend to think all of your songs are factually accurate. It’s a policy I’ve had for a while.
Well it’s as factually accurate as the Bible. And I’ve read the Bible from back to front, because I like knowing how it ends. I can’t handle the excitement so I like to know what’s going to happen before it happens.
If Christmas is all about cheeses, what happens if you could only pick one cheese – which cheese would it be?
Blue vein. A big chunk of blue vein always goes down well at my house.
Would you like to narrow that down – Stilton? Roquefort? Gorgonzola?
All the varieties. And the smellier the better. Washed down with a bottle of Maison and a packet of Ritz crackers.
And also, one would imagine, accompanied by some gingerbread – because the Gingerbread Man may come around?
The Gingerbread Man, Bill, he very rarely brought gingerbread – it was one of the things he probably felt funny about bringing because of his heritage. He used to bring around lots of different things.
Does he still bring presents to his special ginger children-friends?
It’s been a long time since I’ve spent any time in the neighbourhood. I occasionally get a postcard from Aunt Siobhan. And evidently Bill’s still gettin’ around there. Every week – every Monday morning – he’s still delivering his bread and his French stick – his baguette. He’s still giving a few ladies in the neighbourhood the odd baguette. I think these days he’s part-timin’ too as the Neighbourhood Watch guy. He’s like a safe haven for kids after school. Especially the ones with ginger hair.
As you probably don’t want a new front bum for Christmas yourself, what’s on your wish list for Santa?
I’m after companionship this year. I want to spend twelve months looking for the next Mrs Goode. So I’m combing the country looking for a partner in life, someone who’s prepared to endure the touring schedule and recording schedule of an international superstar. But also somebody who wants to share all the good things in life – in summertime the beach, the sand, the beautiful holidays, the candlelit dinners, and in winter the beach, the sand, the beautiful candlelit dinners and the snow.
I would think with your international touring schedule, it would be the eternal summer – when it’s winter in Australia you could be touring where it’s summer. So the future Mrs Goode could indeed be enjoying beachtime, summetime, even in wintertime.
Exactly. She’s gotta be flexible, like Nadia Comaneci, ya know. She’s gotta be flexible and adapt to anything that Buddy Goode’s up to. Of course she’s gotta be independent too. She’s gotta know what she wants in life – as long as I’m on top of that list.
This is your opportunity to put out a detailed personal ad for the future Mrs Goode, so are there are any other attributes you’d like her to have?
I like most of it to be real, you know what I mean. Not fussy which parts aren’t, but at least 90 per cent of what God gave her, and the other 10 per cent I’m flexible. But I need someone with a good, strong mind, someone who’d love to play Sudoku or someone who’s intelligent enough to answer at least one question in Glenn A Baker’s Rock Academy trivia game.
I think it’s likely, as you tour around, that you’ll find someone with those attributes. So 2014 is looking good for Buddy Goode.
I’m hoping. And especially as I tour the regional areas – that’s where I’m hoping to find the right Mrs Goode. Because I love country girls. Country girls seem to be able to offer a lot more than city girls. They’re not as fussy. They offer far more because they accept a whole lot less.
At what age did you get too big for Santa’s knee?
Never. Never too big for Santa’s knee. I wrote a song about it on my album but the reason I did that is that it’s a protest song, like ‘Big Yellow Taxi’. It’s my Christmas protest song. No matter what age you are, you should be allowed to go to Grace Bros or David Jones or your local Westfield and be able to go up and sit on Santa’s knee no matter how big you are. We’re all kids at heart, and that never dies.
So will you be doing that this year?
I’ve done it at least a dozen times already. Per day. They see me comin’ and they’re reachin’ for that ‘Back in 10 Minutes’ sign, I tell ya.
And while you’re waiting for Santa to return, perhaps you’re eating some yellow snow … But it seems to me that you have not heard Frank Zappa’s song about not eating the yellow snow.
I have heard it. But when you write these songs about your own experiences in life, it’s amazing the people you don’t know personally who have had the same experiences. So who would have thought that me, standing out the back of my little hut up in the mountains, with all my friends, building a snowman made out of snow filled with urine, that Frank Zappa had the same experience when he was a kid.
Now, it’s an ambitious thing to release a Christmas album when so many have before, like Michael Bolton. But do you feel yours could sit alongside your more classic Christmas releases, like Johnny Mathis and Bing Crosby and Jim Nabors?
Certainly. I put mine right in there just above Johnny Mathis and just right below Jim Nabors, which is a little bit of a worry. The classics, as we all know, are Bing Crosby’s ‘White Christmas’ and his other Christmas records. But the ’80s was a good time for the Christmas album too – the Bros Christmas album; the Starship Christmas album. There’s always plenty. But it’s always funny how many people do these Christmas albums and they never get any recognition for them. None of the Christmas albums ever get nominated for Grammys or Golden Guitars, but I’m plannin’ to change that next year. I’m hopin’ that this Christmas album will certainly win me my second ARIA and my first Golden Guitar. And maybe a Grammy.
Well, your Christmas album would one of the few ever to feature original songs.
That’s a good point. There’s been a lot of controversy lately over Troy Cassar-Daley and Adam Harvey’s album Country Song Book. It’s a fabulous record. All those great songs that we’ve heard a million times. But I love it. When I was writing songs for my Christmas album I was kind of planning to do a few of the old classics, you know. But I just couldn’t do it. I thought I’d get in too much trouble. Once something’s been done so perfectly in the past, it’s not for Buddy Goode to go in there and do it better.
It’s a Buddy Goode Christmas is out now from ABC Music.