Blue Christmas

25 12 2009

So i really wanted to write a blog post with Christmas music for every mood… ex. have a very [ wacky, drunk, weird, etc. ] Christmas. But, I kept on running into awesomely melancholy christmas music, holiday songs with a touch of sadness. Not to be too much of a downer, but sometimes it’s nice to listen to slightly sad music, and I think many of us can have mixed feelings about the “most wonderful time of the year”. So if you are in the mood to chill out and escape grating, irritatingly sickly sweet christmas tunes (Mariah Carey, I’m looking at you), check out these songs!

First up is the reigning king of sorrowful tracks (“emo” if you will), Bright Eyes. Conor Oberst recorded a pretty morose rendition of “Blue Christmas.” (Thanks for the tip, Pooch!) Click on the link for a free download of “Blue Christmas” and tons of other Bright Eyes and Saddle Creek releases. As usual, Oberst sounds like he is on the verge of tears or as if he is drowning (as one of my friends acutely noted) while singing the Elvis classic. Oberst also recorded a whole Christmas album a few years ago (who knew?), so that is worth a spin if you want some more unconventional Christmas tunes.

Next is Okkervil River, Listening to Otis Redding at Home During Christmas, from their 2002 album Don’t Fall in Love With Everyone You See. Will Sheff perfectly captures the melancholic undertone of feeling nostalgia for a home that no longer exists….Also, beautiful violin at the end of the song! This is one of my favorite Okkervil River tracks of all time, regardless of the season.

Next is Soltero with “Songs of the Season.” Soltero is a relatively under the radar band, I first heard about them when my friend Claire put the song “The Moment You Said Yes” on a mix a few years back. They are a folk band outta Philadelphia lead by singer/songwriter Tim Howard; Soltero plays pretty songs with interesting lyrics that have a similar sound to The Mountain Goats or Little Wings. “Songs of the Season” has a pretty upbeat sound, but the song discusses losing one’s dreams and hopes, heavy stuff. By the way, another Soltero track I have been digging a lot lately is “The Priest”

Last and MOST CERTAINLY not least is Mr. Sufjan Stevens. Songs for Christmas is a five album box set of EPs Stevens recorded from 2001 to 2006 originally intended as gifts for family and friends. He covered many Christmas classics ( “O Come O Come Emmanuel”), as well as writing a ton of original Christmas songs. I absolutely adore this collection of albums and force my family to listen to it constantly during Christmas, and they have grown to love it… I think. I am shocked that I haven’t written about Stevens yet on this blog, considering he is one of my all-time favorite artists, one of the only artists I could describe myself as fanatic about. Songs for Christmas has been a critical success, with Entertainment Weekly describing it as “thrilling”, so apparently I am not the only one who is a devoted Sufjanite.

Sufjan does not disappoint in delivering both joyful, cheerful tracks as well as more morose songs that show the dark side of Christmas. The delightfully titled “Did I Make You Cry on Christmas Day? (Well, You Deserved It!)” describes the difficult side to Christmas, with Sufjan singing “I stay awake at night, after we have a fight, I’m writing poems about you, and they’re not very nice.” Another superbly depressing (but realistic) track is “That Was The Worst Christmas Ever!” is a folksy, gentle track describing shoveling show in the driveway, with the refrain “Silent Night, nothing is Right.” I also love “Sister Winter”, another Sufjan original. Ahh… what to even say about it, just a gorgeous track all around.

I could endlessly ramble on about the glory  that is Stevens’ Christmas collection, but I really should get off of the computer and actually spend some quality time with the family. It is Christmas, after all. A a final Sufjan note, here is the SUPERB animated music video for Stevens’ “Put the Lights on the Tree”…. call your grandma on the phone, if she’s living all alone!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone.  I will stop being such a Grinch and end the blog post with a deliriously happy Christmas song, Paul McCartney’s “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas TIme”. Enjoy the cheesy ’70s graphics and fashion in the video.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.



PS-  Returning to my KSCU show Monday, January 4 (7-9 pm).




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