Five Christmas Songs That Will Totally Bum You Out
Note: This article originally appeared in December 2010. Rocks Off brought it back for all you grinches out there. Happy Festivus!
5. Steve Earle & Emmylou Harris, "Christmas In Washington"
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Steve Earle recounts how he felt while we were gearing up to (sort of, almost, kind of, not really) elect George W. Bush for the first time. He begs Woody Guthrie, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and other defenders of the downtrodden to come back from the grave - we assume not as zombies -- and keep us safe from the union busters, the railroad barons and the warmongers who would spend the next eight years running roughshod over the Constitution.
Hmm... come to think of it, it might have been an easier job for some zombies. Earle's foreboding seems almost prophetic in hindsight, as Clinton was still president when he wrote the song, but then again it's not hard to prognosticate that Republicans will sell the country to corporations, persecute every minority without enough money to buy them off, and bomb the shit out of foreign brown people.
Even so, that makes Steve Earle one of the first to write a "we're all fucked" song in relation to that time period, so kudos for that.
4. Major Bill Smith & Nancy Nolte, "Happy Birthday, Jesus"
Major Bill Smith is thoroughly unhappy with Christmas, and by God, you are going to hear all about it. In addition to the not-at-all unusual complaint that Christmas grows more and more secular each year and less and less about the birth of Jesus, Major Smith also has problems with pollution, industrialization, commercialization, consumerism, drinking, partying, adultery, homosexuality, greed, the gaudiness of many Christmas decorations and "ill repute."
Indeed, Major Smith seems quite convinced that the Lord is up in Heaven almost suicidally depressed at the state of things down here, and he lists mankind's every perceived offense in three and a half minutes while someone, we assume Ms. Nolte, warbles "Silent Night" in the background.
Normally we're not ones to talk back to our fellow curmudgeons, but Jesus, Major White, there's still a lot of good stuff about Christmas too, don't you think? In fact, a lot of the stuff you listed, if you just gave it half a chance, you'd find out it wasn't so bad, particularly when combined all in one evening.
Oh, and "Xmas" isn't a way for non-believers to remove Christ's name from the holiday. You can at least put that complaint to bed.
3. Loretta Lynn, "Christmas Without Daddy"
This one actually wasn't as depressing as we thought it would be. Looking at the title, we figured Daddy was dead, but no, he's not, he's just gone. Which leads to the inevitable question: where the hell is Daddy? Is he at war? Is he stuck on the road trying to make it home? Or is he just one of those dads who left one day and never came back?
We suppose it doesn't matter. Whichever option you pick, you're still left with a little girl needlessly hanging Daddy's stocking by the fire and a little boy who will soon find out that Santa, like God, has kind of a spotty prayer-answering record.
And that's when it hit us, that's what makes this song so sad: It's the hope. Sweet, innocent hope, swatted down and stomped on by this bastard monster Daddy, who for all we know is in Vegas chasing tail, tripping balls, and gambling away the kids' college funds.
List continues on the next page.