Merry Holiday Dear Reader!
In collaboration with the ever helpful Leah Fine. We have compiled a non-exhaustive, somewhat random, narrowly eclectic, and by no means good, Holiday Playlist. These selections should put you in the holiday mood without driving you batty with wintertime 'favorites' such as Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses. I once caused a scene after Christmas Wrapping came on for the 15th time while working at a very busy Guitar Center.
I hope this will serve well as festive background to family events, baking cookies, cramming for finals, or sobbing alone in your cold apartment (holidays are weird). So grab a seasonal drink or seven, relax, and enjoy this mess of winter songs that we think are not terrible.
Leah’s Extra Special Songs
Ryuichi Sakamoto - Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence
My love for Ryuichi Sakamoto comes from a long summer spent behind a desk at a just-ok internship, during which I went deep down a minimal music rabbit hole. This song - the piano and strings version of the electronic original, from the soundtrack of the movie by the same name - is one of my favorites. I’m glad it’s now a little more seasonally appropriate. Watch out for more from Sakamoto on the score of The Revenant (which also features Bryce Dessner of the National).
Bon Iver - Blood Bank
This, to me, is what winter sounds like. Hearing this song was also the first time I could decipher what Justin Vernon was singing. His lyrics were worth waiting for.
Ra Ra Riot - Winter ‘05
This album (The Rhumb Line) carried me through a lot of early college angst, but it’s held up much better than any of Ra Ra Riot’s later albums. This song is for anyone who wishes they were spending the holidays with someone who isn’t there, complete with brooding strings for that staring-sadly-out-a-bus-window-at-the-snow feeling.
Neal’s Songs of Interest
The Both - Nothing Left to Do (Let’s Make This Christmas Blue)
To me this song captures the coziness of the older christmas classics, but with a much lonelier spin on the holiday. Ted Leo and Aimee Mann’s back and forth verses are a beautiful thing to behold.
Josh Ritter - Empty Hearts
It’s a ritual for me to listen to this song around New Years. It’s a song of hope and redemption. I saw Josh Ritter perform this live and the sing-a-long chorus at the end is a powerful experience, especially when a whole theatre is singing a long. Just imagine that and you’ll see why I love this song so much.
Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings - 8 Days of Hanukkah
I can not stop singing this song. It’s full of joy, humor, fantastic vocals, and outstanding musicianship. It’s especially nice to hear joyous holiday music that doesn't rely on bells or bouncy melodies, Christmas Wrapping really did a number on me..
Merry Holiday Music!