Some of my favorite Christmas tunes are ripe melancholy. Sure, I love the upbeat around that time of year, but there’s something great about the following songs. They don’t hide their sadness or misery, no matter how catchy.
7 O’Clock News/Silent Night – Simon and Garfunkle
Oh, how that newscast could be updated to fit with today.
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Pedro the Lion
Stripped down and beautiful, this has become one of my favorite versions. The vocals sound pained and there are points where you wonder if he can finish.
Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely Day – Brenda Lee
My Queen of Christmas.
If We Make It through December – Merle Haggard
Thanks to PC for reminding me of this one. Written in the grasp of the 1970s recession, it’s looking like this song might continue to resonate this year.
Call Collect on Christmas – Del McCoury
An all-out bluegrass tear-jerker—when your mother asks you to call on Christmas, do as she says.
Please Come Home for Christmas – Charles Brown
There are other versions—this is the best.
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Judy Garland
And the same with this—nothing beats Judy’s original, the hands-down winner for the most depressing Christmas song ever written.
Christmas In Paradise – Mary Gauthier
If you don’t know Mary Gauthier, seek her out. She’s similar to Lucinda Williams and Kathleen Edwards—female singer/songwriters who write some of the most painfully honest songs.
Merry Christmas from the Family – Robert Earl Keen
Lastly, here’s a mix of happy/sad. Sure, the family has some problems—what family doesn’t? But there’s something nice about this song. At least, no matter how much eggnog is consumed or Marlboro Lights are smoked, the folks are together.