“Christmas on Cellblock 9” is the latest devilishly-clever track from See Your Shadow Songwriting. You won’t be blushing from the cold air on your cheeks, and you will be singing along just as you would any other Christmas track. This bad-luck scenario song is one of the most wickedly fun holiday songs to hit since “Grandma Got Ran Over By A Reindeer”. A follow-up to See Your Shadow Songwriting’s two previous outings, “I Will Tell Jesus You Said Hello” and “My Worth”, Michael Coleman, the man behind See Your Shadow Songwriting, delivers yet another gem.
It was not a silent night, the male singer sings in the opening lines. He’s walking home on Christmas Eve, and it goes downhill from there for him. He can’t catch a break and is mistaken for someone else, thrown in jail, and can’t get the money to make bail. What could be worse on Christmas? The singer is so happy-go-lucky, so positive, it’s comical to hear him sing certain stanzas. I often think of Christmas songs has having the voice of Burl Ives, in its baritone, coal-level drawl. The voice in “Christmas on Cellblock 9” is chipper and sounds a lot like Luke Bryan. When he sings the chorus, a country-infused electric guitar sings just as melodic. Between his voice and the guitar, along with the drum work and bass rhythm it’s a happening little country tune.
The insatiable chorus decking the walls, behind concrete walls, jack frost is nipping but not at my nose, telling bubba no means no, under the mistletoe, the holiday spent doing time, Christmas on cell block 9, keeps the entertainment factor pretty high. I think it’s a funny song, and like the holidays, laughter can ensue. In a strange way, it also reminds me of something from National Lampoon or Mad Magazine. And the 1980s child in me kept thinking of The Earnest movies. It’s all in good fun. There’s an aura of slapstick comedy, much like The Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl”. Spoiler alert: he gets out of jail and gets an apology. But who can forget the time he spent in jail. Coleman wraps up the story pretty tidy, and as a listener, I felt pretty fulfilled with the outcome. He definitely has a strong writing foundation and I loved the ‘ease’ of his lyrical flow. Coleman, who has the distinction of being a nominee for Ohio’s poet laureate, is a refined songwriter. I can feel the characters in the song, I can picture them immediately. He strikes a quiet, but outlandishly fun. He flirts the line between being folksy and country rock.
“Christmas on Cellblock 9” is one of those rare songs that keeps you laughing just as much as it keeps you shaking those hips. This year, like most years, the Christmas music selection features many ‘go-to’ songs. I think Coleman and his generous songwriting projects, See Your Shadow Songwriting, have a great chance at making many fans’ Christmas holiday playlists. This one is definitely a keeper.
by Bethany Page