Singer-songwriter Rachel Garlin has released the official video for “Winter Fuel (Good King Wenceslas Revisited),” an original adaptation of the holiday classic “Good King Wenceslas.” Asks Garlin, “Who doesn’t need a little more brotherly/sisterly/siblingly love in their city?”
Produced by her 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).
“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.”
While searching for twinkle lights in her attic, she came across the lyric booklets. She started picking “Good King Wenceslas” on her guitar, and her five-year-old interpreted the song. “Three generations of girls/women singing ‘Good King Wenceslas’ were 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 1853 carol. Garlin considers it “a song with no answers,” spurred on by a brief encounter with a stranger which in turn prompted a series of questions from her child. “The video happened organically with footage from around the city and images of branches that intertwine and support each; the soundtrack includes the middle school voices of the San Francisco Boys Chorus and as such is an expression of interconnectedness in our city and beyond.”
Garlin will release a new LP in 2023 and will perform select dates throughout the year.