Two schoolteachers from Glasgow are eyeing a place in the Christmas charts with an emotional song that is striking a chord for festive audiences in the era of coronavirus.
Phil Ford and Tim Kwant, who perform under the name Lapwing, wrote the song Hope Christmas Gets You To Me about the desire for human connection during lockdown.
The song has proved to be more successful than they dreamed, picking up around a million streams on all platforms since its release on December 1 and gaining national airplay from DJs including Jo Whiley and Ken Bruce.
“We are just so grateful that people have taken it to their hearts and it seems to be speaking to them in some way,” Mr Ford, a 39-year-old English teacher, told the PA news agency.
“That’s way beyond your wildest dreams as an English teacher who occasionally writes wee songs with his pal.”
The pair, who cite Christmas In LA by the Killers and Sister Winter by Sufjan Stevens as among their favourite Christmas songs, have been friends for about a decade and were inspired to start writing together after attending a Fleet Foxes gig a couple of years ago.
“We’ve fairly regularly written songs together, generally speaking while sitting round a log burner with a single malt,” Mr Ford said.
Mr Ford, who wrote the lyrics for the song, said he wanted to reflect the reality people are living in.
“A lot of Christmas music is relentlessly upbeat and this year just feels a bit different,” he said.
“Lots of people have had a very, very difficult year and Christmas is going to be very unusual and quite hard for a lot of people.
“When I was thinking about the song, the words, I just wanted to write something that would acknowledge the difficulty this year and yet would still have some hope on it.”
The pair say they are fortunate not to have been too badly affected by the pandemic, but are conscious of the negative impact it has had on the lives of friends and family – something which has informed Mr Kwant’s vocals on the track.
“It’s really hard for the grandparents,” said physics teacher Mr Kwant, who has two young children.
“Not getting to see their grandkids is a big thing, and I almost sing it from their perspective.
“It’s way harder for them – kids are rubbish on Zoom, it’s so hard for a kid to interact with a grandparent on Zoom, it’s just impossible.”
The duo say they are “overwhelmed” by the reception the song has had.
As well as airplay the song has achieved backing from celebrities including Graham Norton and Lorraine Kelly, the pair have received messages from music lovers who have been touched by the song.
“The way it’s affected all these people is unbelievable,” Mr Kwant, 33, said.
“As a musician that’s what I’ve always dreamed my music would do – almost above being famous or making lots of money, you want to make a difference, you want your music to actually help people, affect them.”
Also taking notice of the success of the song – which was at number 18 in the iTunes chart on Friday afternoon – are the two teachers’ students.
“I’ve got a lot of kids in class saying things like ‘if you get famous sir you have to still teach us, you’ve got to get us through higher, wait ’til you’ve done that and then you can go’,” Mr Kwant said.
Whether the pupils are right or not about the impending fame of their teachers, Mr Ford says they are making the most of the experience.
“It’s just an extraordinary encouragement that we could write something that people connect to, so I’d like to keep doing that,” he said.
“Whatever happens with that happens, but I’m definitely just enjoying this moment.”