If there’s one thing that Tara Thompson wants for Christmas, it’s tickets to a Willie Nelson show. She’s singing about the top item on her Christmas list in her new song “Willie Nelson Tickets,” the first release from her upcoming holiday-themed album, Hillbilly Christmas, which will be out by the end of November.
“Willie Nelson for president, by God,” says Tara in an interview with Sounds Like Nashville. “He’s been my hero for a long time. I just love his songwriting, and I still haven’t gotten the chance to even be in the same room as him, so obviously, going to see him live would be a very good Christmas present for Tara Thompson. That was kind of the inspiration behind it.”
The tune, written by Thompson, James Cook, Marc Christian and Matt King, features a reference to Nelson’s song “Whiskey River,” as well nods to his ‘favorite hobby’ with lines like “I can smell the smoke from here.”
“It wouldn’t be a song about Willie Nelson if I didn’t include his favorite hobby — it just makes sense,” says Thompson. “I just went for it. People are loving it and hopefully it stays that way.”
The song’s witty lyrics are coupled with a throwback country instrumentation complete with steel guitar, harmonica, and a piano solo straight out of a western saloon. Thompson says fans can expect a similar style on the entire Hillbilly Christmas project.
“I wanted, when you heard it, it would be super country — a country song, and the lyrics are what make it Christmas,” Thompson says. “I want when people hear this to be like, ‘Wow, now that is country music.’ Not dissing new country by any means. I just wanted to bring back more of the old-school sound because I’m such an old-school artist, especially in my soul.”
The album will feature a wide range of songs, including the lighthearted “Wienerschnitzel,” the wistful “Christmas Eve,” and a cover of Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas.” Thompson also recorded a music video for “Christmas Eve,” out Nov. 22. This collection of songs, which will be released independently, will be Thompson’s first full offering since her Someone To Take Your Place EP released in 2016 on Big Machine Records.
“It felt like a lifetime ago because you go from promoting a single and doing radio tour to nothing,” says Thompson of the transition in her career. “It’s been kind of a blessing in disguise because I wouldn’t have been able to do this Christmas album if I wouldn’t have had all this time. It was honestly the last thing in the world I would ever think of putting out, and now it’s the most perfect thing in the world to put out.”