It was Christmas Eve, and The Wildcats were getting ready to put on their annual Christmas concert. Bret played the drums and he hated this time of year. Why did he hate Christmas you ask? Well, you see in previous concerts he had to play the solo drum part in the song Little Drummer Boy. It’s not that he was bad, but he was the best, he played that part so well it made him a local legend. Everywhere he went people complimented him on that performance, even in the middle of summer. He got so much attention that he never got a moment's rest. In every show that The Wildcats put on after that night, the crowd would start chanting Little Drummer Boy over and over, until they gave in and made Bret play the song. Due to the unwanted attention, Bret slowly lost the Christmas spirit.
It was now time to take the stage and The Wildcats played some of their favorite holiday classics, and even threw in some of their original songs as well. They played to a crowd of over five thousand people that night and the concert lasted for about two hours. They played one final song which was Silent Night, and then announced to the crowd that they wished them a Merry Christmas and a good night. At that moment a roaring chant of Little Drummer Boy blasted The Wildcats because they did not play that song at Bret’s request.
Some of the other band members had to talk Bret into it, and he reluctantly played the song again. Of course the crowd went wild, and Bret didn’t even give his best performance because he just wasn’t into it, and he had the thought that if he played the song badly enough that maybe the people would stop wanting to hear it. The Wildcats had noticed this as well, but to their surprise when Bret finished playing, the crowd started to yell even louder Little Drummer Boy over and over. Dave, the lead singer told the crowd that once was enough and wished them a Merry Christmas and a good night once again. The crowd must have really been in the Christmas spirit because they would not stop shouting Little Drummer Boy. So as you probably guessed, they had to play that song one more time. At the end Bret just threw his drumsticks down and walked off stage.
With the show behind him and the night still being young, Dave went up to Bret backstage and asked him, “Hey buddy, I’m sorry about that song, but we were invited to a Christmas party and I thought that you might want to come along. It’s a party that our fellow musicians have put together and there won’t be any fans.” Bret looked at him with the most hateful look he could muster and yelled out, “No way dude! I know what will happen, I’ll get stuck playing Little Drummer Boy over and over and I don’t think I can do it anymore.” Dave laughed and promised him that he might enjoy himself and find some of that Christmas Spirit that he had lost. Feeling pressured, and not having anything else to do because his family was out of town, Bret agreed to go.
When they arrived at the Christmas party they were greeted by loud music, good food and drink, and for the most part people seemed to be having a good time. Bret was surprised to see a live band playing because with this party being composed of musicians, he thought they would be tired of playing. It didn’t bother anyone else, so Bret took it in stride. He went over and grabbed some food, and sat down to listen to the band. He looked over at Dave and asked “Who are they, they're pretty good” Dave told him “They call themselves The Tombstones, and they might give us a run for our money.” Bret looked surprised and said, “ I doubt that, I think they're good but not that good, besides who else do you know who can play Little Drummer Boy, and have the fans wanting more all year long?” Bret replied, “Well you do have a good point, what’s with you and that song anyway?”
“I don’t know, but I just can’t stand to play it anymore. I even hear that song when I go to sleep at night. I can’t get it out of my head, it’s almost as if it haunts me,” Bret said. “Maybe you were born to play that song. You ever think about that. I mean some people are just meant to do something and be the best at it. I know it’s just a song, but maybe to these people it’s more than a song. Maybe it touches something deep inside them to their core. Plus with the way you perform it with the raw and emotional energy it’s like you become one with the song. You may not like it, but everytime you play that song, that emotion comes through. Even the last time you played it, just fantastic,” replied Dave.
“I never really thought about it that way before. You might be right Dave, hey I have an idea,” Bret said. Dave watched as Bret got up and went on stage with the Tombstones. They stopped playing and Bret said, “Sorry to interrupt, but I have something that I need to do.” The members of Tombstone got off stage shouting foul language and insults at him. Bret ignored them and picked up the drum sticks.
“I’m sorry but I have to play a song and I know you all know what it is,” he said smiling. Suddenly the people at the party started chanting Little Drummer Boy. Bret sat down at the drums and then threw the drumsticks on the floor. He said, “Oh no, I’m not playing this song with the drums anymore.” He walked over and picked up the electric guitar and started playing the song in a way that no one had ever heard before. The new sound made the people at the party cheer in excitement. It was so good and loud that people from around the block had left their homes to come and hear this new sound. It made some people smile, and some people cry, but there was no denying that something special had happened that night.
Bret had found the Christmas spirit again, and he was so happy because he had found a new appreciation for the song. One big surprise was that a big record producer was at that party and he had signed The Wildcats to a huge record deal. They recorded their very first album with The Little Drummer Boy (electric guitar version), going to number one on the charts all over the world. With this new version of The Little Drummer Boy Bret had earned a new nickname, Bret The Drummer Man.
Daniel R. Hayes