The song tells the story of a little boy with clothes that "were worn and old" buying shoes one Christmas Eve for his sick mother so she'll look good if she "meets Jesus tonight." Founding member Eddie Carswell told us, "it was inspired by this lady who'd actually been in that situation - not exactly the way the story goes, but a very similar story."
The song's storyline was inspired by a Christmas story that St. Louis-based radio personality DC Chymes found on the Internet. A NewSong fan, Chymes asked Eddie Carswell to write a song based on the narrative. Eddie and his then songwriting partner Leonard Ahlstrom liked the idea and worked at it on and off for a couple of years without completing the song. "We would read this story, and we knew something was there," Eddie recalled in the band's online biography, "so we kept stabbing at it, kept coming back to it."
When the band was recording Sheltering Tree, Eddie pitched the unfinished song, but the producer passed on the cut. With the album complete, NewSong had a meeting with people from their Benson Records label. The suggestion was made about adding a last minute Christmas song, so Eddie played a rough version of "The Christmas Shoes". Their enthusiastic response convinced the two writers to finish the song and the record label to add it. Within a mere week, the second verse and bridge were complete, and "The Christmas Shoes" was on the album as a bonus track.
Benson was a Christian record label but it had a mainstream affiliate. When they played the song for their mainstream side, they immediately saw its potential. Eddie recalled to us, "First thing you know it was out and we're getting these unbelievable reports all over the country about it and about how much everybody liked it and what was going on."
After NewSong recorded the track, Carswell told a writer friend of his, Donna VanLiere about it. She put together a novella based on the song, which was on the New York Times bestseller list in 2002. It was later made into a TV movie for CBS, called The Christmas Shoes starring Rob Lowe and Kimberley Williams, which was the second highest-rated TV movie of the 2002-2003 seasons. VanLiere has since penned several more books that were inspired by the song, which have spawned a couple more TV movies. Eddie told us that, "it's just been a crazy thing how God's blessed that little song. Just when you think it's all over, something else happens about it. So it's been an amazing song to be a part of."
The Christian music group NewSong was originally a 9-member church band for Morningside Baptist Church in Valdosta, Georgia, formed in 1983.
This hit the top of the Adult Contemporary chart in 3 weeks. A year later it was the title track of NewSong's holiday album.
Beverly from OkcThe song came before the story and movie. I have problems with this song myself. I do think it was written to sell, playing on emotions and kindness of most Christians. Why does the boy have to be dirty from head to toe because he is poor? Are all poor people dirty? The writer of the song makes himself out to be the hero. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Why does the woman need shoes on her feet when she dies? Jesus died on the cross with no shoes. If the boy found a way to earn the money and was paying for the shoes on his own, it might make the song a little better, as the boy could truly be the giver of the gift. Would a little kid say "most times she just did without." Sounds like what a middle aged person would say when describing their childhood.
K.c. from NhGee, @Erika...I didn't know that there were so many songs about little boys with dying mommies. I must have missed something.
Erik from Bloomfield Hills, MiThis song is so silly and full of cliches.
Tessa from Washingtonville, PaI love this song, I can see what you mean about scamming Jerry, but this seriously is a story about a boy buying a pair of shoes for his sick mother. This is a great song to listen to when it is winter, it somehow makes you a little warmer.
Erika from Fox Valley, WiI personally think the song is in poor taste. Songwriters know what will sell and gut wrenching sob stories about little boys and dying mommies tops the list of stories that will sell. Throw in the concept of Christmas and they just couldn't lose. You can't fault these folks for knowing how to get to you people and make some money of this little song...but this, in my opinion is an inappropriate Christmas song. Christmas is supposed to be a celebration of the birth of our savior...we're supposed to be joyous, not bummed out. I say this song is a cheap shot.
Mary from Phoenix, AzI can't listen to this song while I'm driving, because the tears make it really difficult to see the road. It's a very touching song, and the movie was well done. Leah, no...God or Jesus would not care if she shows up barefoot. The concept (as seen in the movie) is that she told her child a story of how when she was little, she had this pair of shoes that to her, were magical, because everytime she put them on, they made her dance. The son over-heard her telling her friend that she wishes she could have another pair of "magic shoes" again, and that is when he tried to earn enough money to buy a special pair for her. Thanks.
Jennifer Harris from Grand Blanc, MiJesus Christ wouldn't care if his own mother was in heaven barefoot.This song I don't care for.They play it all the time at Christmas.
Julie from St Petersburg, FlSee the movie! Anybody who has lost a parent and/or wants a careful portrayal of how deeply moving such a loss can be will find a good story based on this song. http://www.watch-movies.net/movies/the_christmas_shoes/
Angelika from Bronx, NyLeah,Brooklyn.NY... the child in this song is young and i doubt that he would understand the concept that God doesnt care weather his mother went looking bumy or not... they were trying to show the innocence of the child in this song and youre taking things to literal...
Icecreamassassin from Providence, RiOverly sentimental and maudlin - even for a Christmas song. This song really teases my gag reflex.
Dylan from Port Orange, FlTake a joke, America.
Leah from Brooklyn, NyI've often thought the child's spiritual priorities are messed up in this song. Jesus Christ wouldn't care if his Mom shows up at Heaven's Gate barefoot, or in old shoes. Jesus Christ would be more concerned with the goodness of her spirit than her material clothing or fashion sense. And is the boy's dad going to explain to him why they can't slip the new shoes on his dying Mom's feet at the hospital...or that they'll have to wait until she's in her casket?
Bill from Syracuse, NyOk, Joe is a cynic. It's a Christmas song! And besides, if I'm gonna run a scam, it sure won't be for a pair of shoes!
Wik from Brooklyn, NyI agree with Jerry, this does sound like a scam. It's the New York in me.
Alyssa from Rice Lake, United StatesJerry, Brooklyn, NY
I don't know how you could think that of this song! This song is about a little boy whos mom is dying not trying to get money from people! It's a religious christmas song and if you can't say something good about it!! ugh
Claire from Oak Ridge, TnSweet, but too sweet, as is the flaw with many heartstring-tuggers.
Deb from Eagan, MnWe loved this movie on tv. The song always makes us cry... Wish they would show it again.. and play more often.
Jerry from Brooklyn, NyCall me a cynic, but the first time I heard this song, I pictured the little kid running out of the store to a parked van around the corner shouting, "Hey Dad! We scammed another sucker!"