The Best Christmas Music Knows This Is a Sad Time of Year


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Dan Fogelberg’s Another Old Lang Syne is a really good heartfelt reflection on lost love and regret; feelings that tend to turn up naturally at the end of the year (a good time to reflect on the year and, by extension, the past).


Sad Christmas music is so hit or miss to me. It might be growing up in the south but most of the Christmas music I grew up with were country Christmas songs. On one hand I have fond memories of Dolly Parton’s “Hard Candy Christmas” and absolutely adore it. On the other hand there is the song “Christmas Shoes” which fills me with blind rage because it’s basically that animal abuse commercial of a Christmas song. It’s not just sad, but also schmaltzy.


besides sufjan stevens’ literal hundreds of excellent, weird xmas songs ranging from desperately sad to raucously joyous, i am a massive fan of Christmas, Thanks for Nothing, an EP by slow club that goddamn rips (and rips me to shreds)
also, my morning jacket’s weird xmas EP is well worth your time


I understand why it happened, but the mainstream rejection of sad Christmas music is one of the reasons why the “genre” bothers me so much.

I basically only listen to Sufjan Stevens’ Christmas albums at this point because they’re weird and actually address the loneliness/sadness that many feel due to family issues, deaths in the family etc.

Also kudos to him for writing original songs that manage to capture quiet joy and sadness that comes with the season.


Low is fantastic and their Christmas music is some of the best. My favorite that I’m listening to this season is “Snow, Lights” by Flora Cash.

Also I do a Christmas mixtape for friends and family each year for people who hate conventional Christmas music! You can listen to it at if you’re into that.


Never been a big Pearl Jam fan. But their song "Let Me Sleep(It’s christmas time) is one of my favorite christmas songs. It’s a pretty depressing one, but relieving in some way.

The theme “sad christmas songs” also makes me think of Tom Waits, but i think i associate more than his actual christmas songs with the holidays.


This song has a lot of real personal meaning to me. It was the first time LCD Soundsystem put out a song after breaking up. This song came right after my ex left me. It was sad yet hopeful and it totally fits the sad Christmas song.


We can’t have a sad christmas music thread without my boy Sufjan, who has recorded multiple albums of christmas music covers as well as created his own sad-as-hell songs like this one:

have a sad holiday season everyone!!


My favorite all time Christmas album will always be the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack. The melancholic tone and minor key found in most of it really nails the sad but hopeful feeling of the holidays to me.

For modern stuff, I really really love Chris Farren’s Christmas album from a few years ago. It features a bunch of great other folks too, Jeff Rosenstock, Jenny Owen Youngs, Sean Bonnette.


I’m sure we can all agree that the best modern Christmas album is Smash Mouth’s The Gift of Rock which has everything we could want with its uptempo stompers.

But in all seriousness I think Sufjan Stevens brand of depressive absurdity matches the tonality of the season perfect.


My favorite New Pornographers song is from their Christmas album. All the songs on it are pretty great.

Joseph, Who, Understood - The New Pornographers


While I think that the assertion that mainstream Christmas music is largely devoid of the more melancholy stuff, for my money you can’t beat the original Judy Garland Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. The entire song is a muted plea to try and enjoy the season, the implication being that the holidays can indeed be the hardest time of the year to feel good. Some versions downplay it, but you can hear in the frantic way she sings, “Someday soon we all will be together/If the fates allow/Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow” that she almost sounds on the verge of tears.

It really reflects the American sentiment at the time it was released too, with American involvement in the war having stretched for 4 years and still in the middle of thick fighting. To her, the future is unclear, and she’s uncertain whether she’ll ever see another Christmas with those she loves It wrecks me, people.


The mad world cover feels rather fitting for this holiday season.


Over the Rhine has three great Christmas albums. Snow Angels is my favorite of the three and the opening track is beautifully sad:


When I was a church-going man, I loved the melancholy Christmas hymns best. Give me the contemplative In The Bleak Midwinter and Oh Come Emmanuel over the crashing celebrations of Joy To the World or Hark! The Herald Angels Sing or Oh Come All Ye Faithful. (That’s not to say that those songs are without merit, of course.)

I think my favorite Christmas album is The King’s Singers A Little Christmas Music, which ranges from the silly to the sublime (Their rendition of I Wonder as I Wander in particular is very good).


I’ve never heard that Stan Rogers track before. It’s very good.

My favorite, though, is probably Gordon Lightfoot’s Song for a Winter’s Night.


One could get a sad vibe from this, but I recommend checking out some terrifying Christmas music instead, such as the American Boychoir’s rendition of “Carol of the Bells.”


I’m all for sad Christmas tunes but The Pogues’ “Fairytale of New York” needs to chill. I don’t have time for it’s gritty Sid and Nancy Xmas BS.


Oh man, this thread has been a goldmine for my Christmas playlist. So to repay the kindness, here’s some of my favorite sadder music:

Love is Christmas by Sara Bareilles

Winter Song by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson

And since I’m new I can only make two links, apparently, so you’ll just have to google the rest:

Atheist Christmas Carol by Vienna Teng

Long December by Counting Crows

White Wine in the Sun by Tim Minchin

Also, Sarah McLachlan also has a version of Song for a Winter’s Night which is really really good.