‘Mek the Christmas Catch Yuh in a Good Mood!’ - The ‘gift that keeps on giving’
There are some songs that put an instant smile on one’s face when they are played. Mek the Christmas Catch You in a Good Mood is one such song. Written in 1981 by Mikey Bennett, it continues to transcend time and has become such a well-loved track that it’s almost impossible to have a good ‘ole Jamaican Christmas without it being played. It invokes memories of a time when music brought out happiness in people. Bennett suggests that perhaps this is what has made the song into a timeless Jamaican Christmas classic.
“ Mek the Christmas Catch You in a Good Mood is one of those special songs. It is really all about how it made people feel. I remember throughout the whole process, just the vibe when the musicians were laying the track. It was magic,” he said. “I remember a Christmas show at the National Arena where we performed, and when we started to sing the song onstage we heard this big commotion. The next thing we knew, kids were running up onstage and before we knew, the stage was full of people dancing and having a good time. It was the first glimpse I had of what it meant to have a hit song. I was amazed.”
With that said, Bennett revealed that when he penned the track some three decades ago, he had no idea that it would be a hit. He said that after constantly hearing that his songs were too complicated from his mother, he wanted to prove that he could write ‘simpler’ and connect with the ordinary man. “What happened was that my mom was an English teacher at Kingston College, and I used to write only in English, and she would tell me: ‘The songs are too complicated. They take too many verses, and the ordinary person is not going to get it’. ‘ Mek the Christmas Catch You in a Good Mood’ was my attempt at writing a ‘Patois’ kind of song, which I had never done before. I wanted to show her I could write simpler,” he said. “When I took it around to Joe Gibbs and sang it for Errol Thompson who was the engineer then, I was surprised that he liked it so much, he called a session for it same time.”
In recalling how special the song still is today, Bennett disclosed how the track almost did not get released because of timing. “I was a member of Home T-4, and it was written towards the end of November, which is kinda late for a Christmas song. In those days, you had to get a stamper made and records pressed and order labels and stuff, so it was not just pressing a button and sending off an MP3 file, there was a process to the whole thing,” he said. “But because of the vibe and how everybody felt, Errol Thompson mixed it the same night and sent it down. People loved it so much they bought boxes of it. It was real-time actualisation ,seeing something you did do so well. Every turn I made after that, I heard the song.”
Describing it as the ‘gift that keeps on giving’, Bennett says the demand for the song remains high, even after 30 years. “The elements about it just make yuh feel good. There is no particular lyric because as far as I’m concerned, it isn’t the best lyrics I’ve ever written, but it’s the people’s song. When Jamaica people hear it, they say ‘This is our song’. Almost every year, my publisher gets a request for it to be used in a commercial or jingle. It’s the gift that keeps on giving,” he said. “This is the kind of song that all of us hope to write several of, but we don’t. Still, every now and then, the universe smiles on us and uses us to deliver one of these songs.”