On December 12, 1999 I had a simple plan: ruthlessly mock pay fitting tribute to Christmas with Paul Todd, a new CD that the company I then worked for had just released.

The Full Story

A coworker had spotted Paul Todd in our office during the discussions about the CD project, and nicknamed him "Chewbacca" for his imposing mane. After I saw the slapdash cover art for the album, including the contractually obligatory portrait taking up at least 40% of the front, I knew I had to entertain my coworker with a Chewbacca version. I daresay my 30 minutes of Photoshop tinkering ended up looking far better than the original.

Then I decided cover art wasn't enough. We needed audio.

The musical backing was simple: I owned a cheap Yamaha keyboard that contained a bunch of preprogrammed songs, including a jazzy version of "Silent Night". I simply recorded that straight into my computer. Yes, I'm a musician, and I should have created my own music. But this was supposed to be bad, and I could hardly top the work that had already been done for me.

Next, I hunted down all of the Chewbacca sound clips I could find on the Internet. Remember, this was 1999. Google was just a year old. I think I may have still been using AltaVista. It was quite an undertaking.

Once I had my sound clips, I determined the pitch of each one and made sure I had all of the notes I needed for "Silent Night." I was missing a few, so I had to pitch shift them in my audio editing software. Then, I simply inserted the clip of the correct pitch at the correct spot in the music. By the time I got to the end and realized I was missing low pitches for the final two notes, I was too drained and was beginning to question why I was going to the trouble of all of this anyway, so I just had Chewy jump up an octave. Hey... listen to that voice. You can't expect him to have much range.

The Aftermath

My coworkers all got a good chuckle out of "Christmas with Chewbacca" and for the next couple of years as December approached we'd share the link around the office again, and I pretty much thought that was the end of it.

A few years later, unbeknownst to me, someone stole the audio track for a YTMND page, and a legend was born. My dumb little audio clip was suddenly on dozens of websites and even made a few appearance on radio and TV. And apparently everyone assumed the YTMND page was the original source.

Then in the early days of YouTube it spread there as well, to a video that now has over a million views.

C'est la vie.

Congratulations. You've found the original.

A Room 34 Creative Services production.
Not affiliated with or endorsed by Lucasfilm, Ltd., Paul Todd, or common decency.