The Making Of A Kiva Christmas Song

19 December 2010 at 11:31 3 comments

By Nick Hamilton, KF13

When Julie Ross (Kiva Fellows Program Manager) asked what I would find most challenging about a Kiva Fellowship I think my first response was ‘not being at home for Christmas’.

I LOVE Christmas. Many people think that it has become too commercialized. Not me. I’m not ashamed to say that I’ll never tire of the protracted build up; the pomp; the ceremony; the tremendous effort that goes into making this one day special. 70s rock band Wizard sang ‘I wish it could be Christmas every day’. Although this may seem a little over-the-top, when the festive season kicks in I find myself in wholehearted agreement.

Things are a little different in the Dominican Republic. While Dominicans still put up Christmas trees and plastic Santas adorn the odd front door, the excitement ends there. There is little-to-no media build up (at the moment Dominican media coverage is understandably focused on broadcasting advice about cholera prevention) and I have the feeling that Christmas day will simply come and go. So I don’t mind saying that this is the time when I’d most like to be at home with my family.

That said, I’m doing my best to stay festive. A couple of weeks ago I found myself without internet for three days. Determined not to let this beat me (internet is often pretty essential for a Kiva Fellow) I tried to think of ways to stay productive. Naturally, the first idea that came into my head was to write a Kiva Christmas song. I say ‘write’ but my musical ability is pretty much nil. What I actually mean is ‘re-write’. In 1987 legendary Irish band The Pogues released the greatest Christmas song of all time, ‘Fairytale of New York’. I decided to re-write the lyrics of this song to reflect Kiva’s mission and hopefully encourage people to lend.

‘The greatest Christmas song of all time?’ you may ask. When I informed the other Kiva Fellows that I’d re-written this song the overwhelming response was ‘I’ve never heard it’. What?! On reading this it felt as if a small part of me had slowly died inside. I had no idea that this song was not a worldwide phenomenon. As British people only represent a small demographic in Kiva’s ballooning membership, I now assume that most readers of this post may not have heard Slade’s ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’, Shakin’ Stevens’ ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’, Jona Lewie’s ‘Stop the Cavalry’ and the aforementioned thumper by Wizard. Please look them up. They will change your life. Maybe.

Okay, enough of the British Christmas song push. I’d re-written the lyrics to ‘Fairytale of New York’ and was not about to change them because The Chipmunk Song had a wider fan base. I knew that I would not have enough quality film and photo footage from the Dominican Republic to fill the video so called on the rest of the Kiva Fellows for assistance. As expected, the Fellows came up trumps and sent me hoards of emails full of brilliant footage, and I became excited about what could be.

But who on earth was going to play the song? I sent an email to a good friend of mine, Alex Singerman, and he said that he’d give it a shot. Alex asked a couple of his friends, Kerri Hall and Laurie Carter, to help him come up with the track and they set to work. On 15th December Alex sent me the song. I couldn’t believe how great it sounded and was unbelievably grateful. I set about fitting the Fellows’ footage around the track and, after much editing, finally published it on Youtube the following day.

So here it is. I hope you like it! If you do, please consider posting it on Facebook (if you’re on Facebook), tweeting it (if you’re on Twitter) or including it in your blog. My (maybe ambitious) aim is to reach a 5-figure viewing number by Christmas day. While I’ll be extremely chuffed if that is achieved, if this video encourages anyone to log on to and make their first loan it will all have been worthwhile.

Click on this link or the thumbnail to view the video.

Merry Christmas!

By Nick Hamilton, KF13. Nick is serving as a Kiva Fellow with Esperanza International in the Dominican Republic and Haiti

Entry filed under: Americas, blogsherpa, Countries, Dominican Republic, KF13 (Kiva Fellows 13th Class). Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

Four days to make a difference? Catching the Christmas Spirit


  • 1. Kieran Ball  |  20 December 2010 at 15:41

    Excellent work Nick. I’ve been to the US around Christmas time and my word, what a load of tosh they listen to. The chipmunks? Please. FONY is a song of such depth and such beauty. Do not be fooled by its quirky start, this song is deadly serious. My old housemate was American and after a year or two in England, she too loved it.

    Anyway enough about that, the video is amazing and I hope Kiva send it out in their Christmas newsletter!

  • 2. josh  |  20 December 2010 at 00:53

    got me feeling proper Cristmassy, with a touch of Kiva love

  • 3. fred  |  19 December 2010 at 13:28

    Nick, I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of Fairytale of New York being the greatest Xmas song ever, even though I’m French. You’ve been doing good squared: along with your Kiva work, you hopefully introduced more people to the awesomeness of this song. Though some may be surprised by the not-so-cheerful feelings at first. Then again, I think the initial sourness is what makes the song so great. It doesn’t hide the ugly warts, and to me that makes all the more appropriate for Kiva.
    Thanks for this, and I hope your channeling of Shane McGowan doesn’t include his teeth.

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