…Songs about loneliness. Heartbreak. Folks down on their luck. Forgotten. Addicted. Only… on Christmas!
One of my favorite Christmas albums is by the Cincinnati folk-pop-jazz-etc. group Over the Rhine. It’s called “The Darkest Night of the Year.”
‘Cause it’s solstice. And people are sad!
The Holidays aren’t always the happiest of times for folks whose families of origin are sources of pain and trauma. Or for folks whose intimate relationships don’t match the heteronormative ideal. Folks who are freakish. Folks who are single.
Depressing Christmas songs clear the clutter so we may experience one another more honestly/meaningfully.
Here are a few of my favorites:
RIVER, JONI MITCHELL
I’m so hard to handle
I’m selfish and I’m sad
Now I’ve gone and lost the best baby
That I ever had
Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on
X-MAS CAKE, RILO KILEY
theres no more running water
wrapping presents in the dark
move into your car
change where you park
too bad that job carolin’ department stores fell through
I WAS THINKING I COULD CLEAN UP FOR CHRISTMAS, AIMEE MANN
I Was Thinking I Could Clean up for Christmas
‘Cause I can’t live loaded and I can’t live sober
And I’ve been this way since the end of October
And I know enough to know
That, baby, when it’s over, it’s over
And it’s over
‘Cause, baby, I’m done
I was thinking I could clean up for Christmas
DID I MAKE YOU CRY ON CHRISTMAS? (WELL, YOU DESERVED IT!), SUFJAN STEVENS
Did I Make you Cry on Christmas? (Well you Deserved It!)
I stay awake at night
After we have a fight
I’m writing poems about you
And they aren’t very nice
I didn’t mean to yell
I said I couldn’t tell
I only grabbed your wrist
Or would you rather we kissed?
ALL I EVER GET FOR CHRISTMAS IS BLUE, OVER THE RHINE
\”All I Ever Get for Christmas is Blue\”
When you play my song
Play it slowly
Play it like I’m sad and lonely
MERRY CHRISTMAS DARLING, THE CARPENTERS
The lights on my tree
I wish you could see
I wish it every day
Logs on the fire
Fill me with desire
SANTA’S SECRET, JENNIFER TERRAN
Distractions can come in many forms
Like waiting for d to call me on the phone
But I’m going back to what my life Will be
When I don’t crave him
will I be freer
CHRISTMAS IN MY SOUL, LAURA NYRO
I love my country as it dies
In war and pain before my eyes
I walk the streets where disrespect has been
The sins of politics, the politics of sin
The heartlessness that darkens my soul
20 thoughts on “I like depressing Christmas songs…”
I totally agree with this post. I get some joy out of being sad at Christmas time.
Hey, that’s handy!
To go old school: “Brick” by Ben Folds Five is a pretty depressing “day after Christmas” song… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wt5EHAqhR1c
Thanks for this, Tim. River is one of my all-time favs. And that Aimee Mann song is gorgeous. Can’t wait to listen to the rest. Sad Christmas songs are like porn to me. Which reminds me, I still have to watch Love Actually and then cry myself to sleep before the 25th.
Also, of course, one of my favorite songs of all time, “Fairy Tale of New York” by The Pogues: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCr30OVMjHA
Some of my favorites:
Casiotone for the Painfully Alone – Cold White Christmas: http://hypem.com/track/969518/Casiotone+for+the+Painfully+Alone+-+Cold+White+Christmas
Low – Long Way around the Sea: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzGejk7SDhM
Mogwai – Christmas Steps: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZuXtXQ7ZQM
Paul Baribeau – Christmas Lights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNjr6Vh6oNg
I was just about to comment about that Casiotone song, and mention from the same album, New Year’s Kiss, which isn’t Christmas obviously, but falls under the “holidays” category for me.
I’d forgotten about that Mogwai song. I think you just made my day a Mogwai day.
Good ones, Tim! Some others:
Neko Case doing Tom Waits’ Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis, http://kayfabe.net/post/277155030/copycats-neko-case-christmas-card-from-a
John Prine, Christmas in Prison, http://popup.lala.com/popup/1657606164013777108
Pretenders, 2000 Miles, http://popup.lala.com/popup/360569565446885899
New Pornographers, Joseph Who Understood (kinda sad, kinda not), http://hypem.com/track/451069/The+New+Pornographers+-+Joseph+Who+Understood
oops, i guess those Lala ones only give you clips though when i googled them directly they gave the whole song.
Did my lala clips do the same thing?
I discovered last night it’s really easy on wordpress to upload tracks from your computer into a post, so I’m totally going to do that in the future.
I didn’t for this post because none of my Christmas music is ripped off the CDs onto my hard drive.
I can’t wait to listen to all of these, Joe — and thanks everyone else as well, for your additions.
Yeah, if you have any of the space upgrades, you can upload music to stream in a post. It’s pr’ sweet.
Also sorry to make an “I Like…” post right after you did. Don’t know how I didn’t notice that.
haha, I didn’t even think abt that.
Over the Rhine! That’s where I went to school. Ol’ OTR, good ol’ OTR.
Love this post, by the way.
I wondered if you might be a fan. Seems everyone in Cincin-I-can-never-remember-how-to-spell-that-city’s-name knows they are awesome.
Joni’s first appearance on Big Other!
Is that Jennifer T. naked on her own cover?
I she??? I only have that album digitally, I never noticed.
She’s a glorious weirdo.
I know you all know this one, but it’s a classic. And it starts out all miserable but then, wouldn’t you know it, right at the last minute it has a happy ending:
(I can’t condone the video, though. Even if it is kinda cool.)
Happy holidays all,
I love “Christmas Wrapping.”
I always forget parts of it qualify as depressing because it’s uptempo.