Friday, December 04, 2009

The top 5 most depressing Christmas songs

I'm a real upper, aren't I? But really, I'm just giving the people what they want (in a sense). According to my site stats, the number one way people find this blog is by Googling "how to survive depression." And really, there are so many uplifting Christmas songs. Why not focus on the soul-wrenching, overwrought ones that focus on the flip side of my favorite holiday: That it can be a damn lonely, depressing time of year? So in no particular order, here we go:

Merry Christmas, Darling by the Carpenters: Setting aside what happened to Karen, her voice has always haunted me. It's beautiful but full of longing and sadness. When you throw in lyrics like, "I've just one wish on this Christmas Eve/I wish I were with you," it adds a whole new dimension. A melancholy classic.

Miss You Most (at Christmas Time) by Mariah Carey: Mariah's now-iconic holiday album, Merry Christmas, came out when I was in college, and I quickly wore it out. She wrote three of the songs on the album -- the ubiquitous neo-holiday classic All I Want for Christmas Is You, Jesus Born on This Day (eh) and this one. This is prototypical Mariah, with sparse orchestration and that gorgeous voice. Take a listen and hearken back to the days when she could sing to make you cry and hadn't gone crazy yet.

I'll Be Home for Christmas (traditional): Like many of us, I have family in different parts of the country. But it wasn't always that way. This song, written originally for WWII vets, always chokes me up a little, remembering those sweeping Christmases of the past when we all were together. And it's especially poignant when you think of all the Iraq soldiers who won't be able to be home for Christmas this year.

Do They Know It's Christmas? by Band Aid: M and I have a grand old time pointing out the different voices in this song every year. But have you really listened to the lyrics?

There's a world outside your window
And it's a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing
Is the bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas bells that ring
There are the clanging chimes of doom
Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you

It's an important point, of course, but yikes. What always struck me about this song (along with Bono's screeching) was, yeah, they probably do know it's Christmas, but they probably don't care. I know when it's Ramadan or Hanukkah, but I don't celebrate those holidays, so they go right on by with very little notice. Weird logic, depressing song, but a cornucopia of '80s talent.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (traditional): This song always made me sad, both because of the tempo and the lyrics . But then I watched the movie The Family Stone, and there's a heartbreaking scene where the family is watching Judy Garland sing it in Meet Me in Saint Louis against the backdrop of a bunch of family drama, and I got it. Just an achingly beautiful song.

Hope your holiday prep is going well. And that you're listening to some good music while you get everything done.

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