I thought the melody was absolutely brilliant and the song should have been a Christmas classic and it frustrated me that almost nobody else had heard of it. I thought it was dumb of Blues Traveller to give the song such an nondescript title too. Since how would people remember this Christmas classic if it barely even had a real name?
Eventually I realized that there was probably more where that came from so it made sense that I'd probably like Blues Traveller a lot. and I started to check out their albums. And lo and behold their albums kinda ....well if they didn't outright suck they were just bland and boring. I came away from the album Four liking "Hook" and "Run Around" and not caring about anything else which is probably what 99% of people who've heard Blues Traveller think. But if anything that made it even stranger. How could a band who could write such a great song as "Christmas" not have any other songs that were like it? I found it hard to believe that they would waste such a great melody on a Christmas song that would only appear on a VA comp. But eventually I just figured it must have been a fluke. It can happen.
Years later, in a completely unrelated series of events I decided to check Phish out. I knew their reputation as a band hippies liked, that they had a zillion live albums, and that they were always compared to the Grateful Dead who I didn't really care for at the time (this has since been corrected). So my expectations weren't high. But I was hearing a lot about them at the time and figured that if they had such a fervent fanbase there must be something of interest there so I should probably give them a shot. this would have been around when the band reunited in 2009-2010 so they were getting talked about by music fans again. I probably would have discovered Phish a lot earlier if they hadn't been broken up during the years when I really started to get into music.
I knew they had a reputation for their live shows, but I didn't even bother trying to find a live album to hear since I wanted to know the studio versions before bothering with a live album, and I might as well start at the beginning, so I downloaded their debut album Junta. I was surprised by how much I was enjoying it on my first listen. But I wasnt completely sure what to think yet.
Then halfway into the song "The Divided Sky". There it was, coming seemingly out of nowhere in the middle of the song the melody to "Christmas" appears. I didn't even know where I recognized the melody from at first since it was in the middle of the summer and Christmas songs were as far from my mind as possible. I had to hear the song again to really be sure. But yep, it was the same melody. And not only does it appear, it appears as the beautiful guitar solo centrepiece of a prog epic. My mind was simultaneously blown to shit and also completely confused. How the heck did this Blues Traveller melody get into this Phish song? How had nobody else noticed and pointed this out before? What was going on here? The melody wasn't exactly the same and I couldn't directly compare them at the time, but it was *way* too close to be a coincidence. Was this just some traditional tune they adapted that I hadn't heard before? I didn't have a smartphone yet, and I was listening on headphones in the car on the way to the beach with my family at the time I first heard it so I had to think about this while I was at the beach for the rest of the day.
Later on when I was finally able to check, it turned out that Blues Traveller set Christmas-themed lyrics to "The Divided Sky", changed the arrangement around and wrote a few new segments so it would flow as a Christmas song. Phish even retained a writing credit on it (though at the time I assumed the credit "E. Anastasio" must have been a guy who was also in Blues Traveller). So my hunch that there was more where that came from was right, but I had been looking in the wrong place, and I quickly discovered that Phish had tons of songs like this. And while it took a very long time for me to go from "casual fan" to "guy in background of video of a 'Phish studies' colloquium held on a desert plain campground" (yes really), I was pretty much sold on them for good from the first time I heard "The Divided Sky".