David Byrne Shares Dark Holiday Song “The Fat Man’s Comin’”

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

David Byrne has shared a holiday-themed song, “The Fat Man’s Comin,'” an intrigue of a man who breaks into people’s homes once a year to leave “mysterious packages.”

“I always wanted to write a holiday song,” said Byrne in a statement. “I wouldn’t call it a Christmas song, as the visitation of Santa (formerly known as St. Nicholas, who mainly did punishing) seems to have evolved to be a more secular consumer moment than a religious or spiritual affair.”

Originally written by Byrne in 2013 and produced and arranged by Jherek Bischoff, “Fat Man’s Comin’” also confronts the believers and non-believers—Ev’rybody says that you can’t be real / People say it’s just my imagination / Ev’rybody claims that they don’t believe / But ev’rybody knows that the fat man’s coming.

“The Fat Man’s Comin'” originally came out of sessions during Byrne’s 2012 collaborative album with St. Vincent (Annie Clark), Love This Giant.

David Byrne’s “The Fat Man’s Comin'” cover art

“I believe the foundation of this music might have been written at the same time as the collaboration I did with St. Vincent a few years ago, but somehow a literal view of the Santa phenomena was what came out,” said Byrne. “It wasn’t right for Annie and me—the story of a fat man in rather odd attire who breaks into people’s homes and leaves mysterious packages.”

Elaborating on the song, Byrne added:

I’d worked with Jherek before and enlisted him to arrange and record the “orchestra,” which I wanted to sound sort of old-school creepy. The old song “Teddy Bears’ Picnic” may have been a reference.

Back then, I thought I’d use the song as a means to raise money for a good cause, but to draw attention to this thing I thought it might need a visual, so I storyboarded a video for the song which eventually ended up getting shelved.

But maybe helping celebrate another year of Reasons to be Cheerful might be a good reason to resurrect this song, and let the storyboards allow folks to imagine what the video might have been.

Released on Bandcamp Friday, proceeds from the purchasing of the holiday single will benefit Byrne’s non-profit online news magazine, Reasons to Be Cheerful.

Byrne recently announced that his neuroscience-inspired immersive theatre experience, Theater of the Mind, which is being held at York Street Yards in Denver, will extend its run through January 2023.

Listen to “The Fat Man’s Comin'” below:

Photo: Jody Rogac / Grandstand Media

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