I met a lot of cool people working at Rosenblatt. One of them was my Supervisor, Chris Dahl. Chris took Kristina Kraus’s position when she left the company for a better opportunity. He was a real purist when it came to finger picking the guitar, and introduced me to guitar greats Guy Van Duser and Leo Kottke to name just a couple. We did some picking together on a number of occasions. One thing I’ve learned about jamming with other musicians, no matter what their skill level is, they always have something you can learn from them. From Chris, I learned the patient discipline he had for mastering complex finger patterns. He also introduced me to his guitar teacher- a guy by the name of Wayne Ryker who taught out of The New Expression music store when itwas located in an old Victorian house on 30th street in North Park. I studied with Wayne for several months and he helped me over a musical plateau I was stuck on at that time.Wayne was also helping me break out of the three finger banjo style of finger picking into a more classical style using all four fingers and the thumb. The first song I learned in this style was Greensleeves, or better known as What Child Is This. I remember thinking ‘I wonder how it would sound if I started the tune out classical finger style and then morphed into a more rock sound?’ As I fooled around with that concept, the song WHATMAN IS THIS was born.The lyrics from the song came from a conversation I had with Mark Crafford about the myths we teach our children. Mark told me that as a child, he believed that Santa Claus,the Easter Bunny, and Jesus were real and when he found out the first two were fake, he assumed Jesus was too. I vowed to never allow my children to be confused like that as I wrote the line, “He’ll enter our children’s dreams and leave them helplessly hoping.” Of course as a young idealistic baby Christian, I was out to save the world from all its fallacies and jumped at the opportunity to rant against the commercial emphasis in the traditional American Christmas. But if you’re thinking of buying me a present, please know that I have softened my position in this regard. 1984 was my most prolific year, having written ten songs.
WHAT MAN IS THIS
Words by Reggie Michaud © 1984 To the tune of Greensleeves
What child is this who laid to rest on Mary’s lap is sleeping.
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet while shepherds watch are keeping.
This, this is Christ the king whom shepherds guard and angels sing.
Come, haste to bring him laud, the babe the son of Mary.
What man is this in a magic sleigh? With a scruffy beard, and his helpers weird.
Who fabricate all kinds of toys for good little girls and boys.
This, this is Santa Claus, who must belong in the land of Oz.
He’ll enter our children’s dreams and leave them helplessly hoping.
What pain is this between my ears, in a shopping line; tis Christmas time.
With banners streaming across the sky saying ‘come we will sell you some more!'
This, this is the counterfeit, upon whose throne the serpent sits.
Come, haste to bring him down with the mighty sword of our Savior.
It’s time to cast the merchants out and purge the birthday of Jesus.