John Schneider: Tom had this notion that we should do a Christmas album about a year ago.
Tom Wopat: We’ve done some work together over the years. A little of this a little of that, and it always occurred to me it would be nice to have something to sell at these things. A Christmas album seemed to be something that would be perennial.
John Schneider: The gift that keeps on giving.
Tom Wopat: Once we got into it, once we started talking about material, it was really, really a lot of fun. It was a challenge, but it was a lot of fun. There’s some real interesting stuff on this.
John Schneider: What are the first two songs we did?
Tom Wopat: “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.”
John Schneider: “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” is the one I heard first.
Tom Wopat: And “Johnny it’s Cold Outside.”
Brendan Francis Newnam: Which is where you guys do a lot of ad lib and have fun with your characters.
Tom Wopat: Kind of a re-imagining of the Frank Loesser tune.
John Schneider: Yes, yeah.
Brendan Francis Newnam: It’s not a lesser version of the Loesser tune guys
John Schneider: It’s a more-er version of the Loesser tune.
Brendan Francis Newnam: So I have to ask some fan questions.
Tom Wopat: Sure, sure, sure
Brendan Francis Newnam: Because as a kid, “The Dukes of Hazzard” was one of my favorite shows.
Tom Wopat: Sweet!
John Schneider: Yay! Good answer.
Brendan Francis Newnam: When I was a kid, I had a reoccurring dream that I would induce. I would will this dream into happening. I would dream that there was this trap door in my front lawn and I would slide down this pole into this imaginary land and you guys would be there with the General Lee.
John Schneider: I have a reoccurring dream that has a pole in it too.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Oh? Did a really young kid with buck teeth come down?
John Schneider: Oh, yeah you came down, that was you!
Brendan Francis Newnam: Wow, man, I knew we were cosmically connected.
John Schneider: You could force yourself to have that dream?
Brendan Francis Newnam: And then we would drive around and, like, Daisy would be there, and Jesse.
Tom Wopat: Oh, sure.
Brendan Francis Newnam: And we’d just jump over creeks and stuff like that and it was just a blast.
John Schneider: It was that much fun, let me tell ya.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Was it that fun?
Tom Wopat: It was that much fun.
John Schneider: Yep! We had a ball!
Tom Wopat: And sometimes, you know, if we were doing something that, they were busy with something else, they would put us in a car with a camera attached to the side, and we’d go off and just drive and do scenes.
Brendan Francis Newnam: How old were you two when The Dukes started?
John Schneider: I was 18 when we started.
Tom Wopat: I was 27.
Brendan Francis Newnam: And they were like, “Here’s a hot car, here’s your makeup trailer, here’s a bunch of money, go have fun?”
Tom Wopat: Well, it wasn’t exactly like that.
John Schneider: It wasn’t quite like that.
Tom Wopat: Alright… it kind of turned into that though.
John Schneider: There was a lot of responsibility involved in Dukes. We worked everyday, a minimum 12 hours a day, 5 days a week, 10 months a year. It was great fun, but it was like having to be at Disneyworld, you know me and you. You had fun while you were there, but you only had the freedom to be there on time and do what you were told and leave when you were told.
Brendan Francis Newnam: The General Lee, it had a backseat right?
Brendan Francis Newnam: So, theoretically, there could be another Duke. Therefore, I could fit in the car with you guys.
Tom Wopat: Oh, sure sure sure.
John Schneider: Many times we had Uncle Jesse back there.
Tom Wopat: We had to stuff Boss through there one time, into the back window.
John Schneider: The window’s smaller back there, because the roll bar is in the way.
Brendan Francis Newnam: But do you… Could I join the Dukes of Hazzard? Could I be the long-lost cousin?
John Schneider: Sure, sure, sure, sure
Tom Wopat: Yeah, what’s gonna be his name though?
Brendan Francis Newnam: I could, like, help you with the bow.
John Schneider: What would your name be?
Brendan Francis Newnam: I don’t know. We’ve got Luke and Bo.
John Schneider: Bo, Luke.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Brendan Francis, I don’t kno,w none of those names feel particularly, you can call me, how about Brendan? That sounds a little…
John Schneider: Two syllables, I don’t know
Brendan Francis Newnam: Oh. Ok.
John Schneider: No, see, Luke Duke… Frank Duke! Frank Duke.
Tom Wopat: Frank’s not bad.
John Schneider: Frank Duke.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Frank Duke. Hank?
John Schneider: Hank Duke, there you go, there you go.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah, guys, I’m in?
John Schneider: You’re in.
Brendan Francis Newnam: I’m honored. This has been the happiest moment of my life.
John Schneider: Just don’t blow up the outhouse again, we just got it rebuilt.
John and Tom’s Christmas Playlist
Tom Wopat: Ladies and gentlemen, this is our Christmas party song list. And I’m going to let my cousin, Mr. John Schneider, go on first.
Brenda Lee, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”
John Schneider: Ok, well, one of my favorite songs ever, because my mom had it on 45, was “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” by the incomparable Brenda Lee. I love it! So clever.
Tom Wopat: And sweet as pie.
John Schneider: Sweet as pie! The great thing about this song is it’s an event at Christmas, from a child’s perspective. Usually it’s from the parent’s perspective, saying Santa is coming and all that. This is a little girl, walking down the stairs, and she sees Mommy kissing Santa Claus. What a laugh it would have been if Daddy had only seen.
Tom Wopat: Or a little boy.
John Schneider: Or a little boy. But Brenda Lee is a little girl.
Tom Wopat: Right.
John Schneider: We’re at the beginning of the party. The egg nog boat is still full and there is a nice circle of ice in the middle so you always scoop the egg nog up out from inside the circle. That’s also where you pour the cinnamon and the nutmeg.
Tom Wopat: Nutmeg! Yeah!
John Schneider: You gotta keep that going. And maybe a little spiced rum.
Tom Wopat: John loves egg nog.
John Schneider: I like egg nog very much. So, Tom. I’m going to open up a little bottle of cheer.
Frank Sinatra and the Page Cavanaugh Trio, “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow”
Tom Wopat: Nice! This is a little later in the evening. I mean, I gotta hear Frank! With the Page Cavanaugh Trio. “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow.” It’s not that well-known version of that tune and, you know, I love to hear that stuff. You hear so many of the same things every Christmas. Hearing something that is a little bit on the edge is always interesting.
One night we played up in the Catskills. My trio and I played up there. And we noticed, about halfway through the set, that everybody was leaving.
John Schneider: Do you notice that a lot?
Tom Wopat: [Laughs] Smart ass. There was a big picture window behind us and snow was coming down. By the next morning, when I woke up in the cabin, there were 29 inches on the ground.
John Schneider: Holy mackerel!
Tom Wopat: I still get the thing, when I see it start to snow, it still feels like a snow day. Like you’re looking forward to getting six or eight inches on the ground so that you can’t go to school.
John Schneider: Yeah!
Tom Wopat: So what have you got? You got another one?
Burl Ives, “Silver and Gold”
John Schneider: I’ve got my favorite, Burl Ives. He sang a song called “Silver and Gold.” I would like to play that, I’m sitting by the fire pit now, with an all-night log from one of the trees, salvaged out of the swamp.
Tom Wopat: You’re back in Louisiana.
John Schneider: Yep. So it’s actually probably cyprus. Fallen cyprus, by the way. Don’t ever cut down a cyprus tree, they’re very rare and unusual.
Tom Wopat: Kinda like you!
John Schneider: I’m going to put my feet up. I’m going to have a little more egg nog. And I’m going to listen to one of my favorite singers, a really great story-teller.
Tom Wopat and John Schneider, “Cool Yule”
Tom Wopat: Listen.
John Schneider: What?
Tom Wopat: There is one song on our record which I think is the most infectious, Latin-sounding Christmas song I’ve ever heard.
John Schneider: Oh! Oh yeah! The Steve Allen!
Tom Wopat: The Steve Allen tune. I originally heard Louis Armstrong sing it and he swung it. So I thought it would be a good idea not to swing it, just because he swings it so well. So we had Rob Mounsey, a very esteemed arranger, put some horn arrangements on it. It’s called “Cool Yule.”
John Schneider: Love it! Oh, it’s so great. Everybody’s leaving the party. They’ve got their little party favors.
Tom Wopat: And they seem to be in a good mood. How could they not be?
John Schneider: I know! You know what’s stuffed into each of those little party favor bags?
Tom Wopat: Coal. Coal for Christmas.
John Schneider: No. Not coal, Tom.