Joel the Lump Of Coal

Album: Single Release Only (2014)

Songfacts®:

  • The Killers teamed up with talk show host Jimmy Kimmel for their ninth annual Christmas song benefiting HIV/AIDS awareness brand Product Red. They debuted the heartbreaking tale about a lump of coal named Joel on the December 1, 2014 episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!
  • Speaking to NME about the Christmas single, The Killers' vocalist Brandon Flowers said: "We watched Back To The Future in Soho in London one night. And of course [the soundtrack is] doused in Huey Lewis. It made me think how much we loved his voice growing up."

    Flowers' plan was to ask their mutual friend Kimmel to introduce him to Lewis. However, the talk show host seized his chance and asked to write a song with the band instead. "Somehow, along the way, Huey lost his involvement," the Killers frontman added. "Jimmy had this idea of a lump of coal who goes to a bad kid and gives up his life and becomes a diamond. It's kind of genius that it hasn't been used."
  • Jimmy Kimmel called in to The Kevin & Bean Show to talk about the song. "Brandon called me, we're both from Las Vegas so I know those guys well, and asked if I would be a part of it," he recalled. "And of course I love making those Christmas songs and it's really a challenge because there are a million Christmas songs and there's not much left to write about. I went to make one like 'Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer' and I started thinking about a lump of coal and how the coal gets sent to live with the bad kids and how unfair that kind of is."
  • Here are some more songs about the black rock, which is mined for use as a fossil fuel.

    "Working in the Coal Mine" by Lee Dorsey (About a guy who is so tired from his work in the coal mine that he can't even have fun on Saturday).

    "Sixteen Tons" by Tennessee Ernie Ford (Based on songwriter Merle Travis' coal miner father).

    "I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I'm Going To Be a Diamond Someday)" by Billy Joe Shaver (The songwriter uses the coal to diamond metaphor to represent the transformation in his life after finding faith in Jesus).

    "Diamonds and Coal" by Incubus (Another use of the coal to diamond metaphor this time representing overcoming trails and conflicts in a relationship).

    "Aberfan" by Dulahan (About the 1966 coal mining disaster which destroyed the Welsh town of Aberfan and wiped out a junior school).

    "Calm Before The Storm" by Saxon (a protest song about the decline of the coal industry and fishing the seas dry).

    "Black Lung Heartache" by Joe Bonamassa (about the high levels of black lung disease among coal miners in West Virginia).

    "Daddy, What Did You Do In The Strike?" by Ewan MacColl (Written for the UK miners' strike that ran from March 1984 to February 1985).

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