My Top 10 Sad Christmas Songs, Rich Paschall

While you are dashing through the snow, listening to jingle bells and silver bells all the way, enjoying the winter wonderland, you may be thinking of joyous music.

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After all, it is a time of joy to the world, peace on earth and good will to men.  If you are on a sleigh ride over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house where you will pass around the coffee and the pumpkin pie, you may think “Baby, it’s cold outside,” but that probably will not dampen your holiday spirit.  While some songs lift you up, there seem to be an abundance of those that do the opposite at this most wonderful time of the year.

Uxbridge Common Christmas

If you need something to wallow in, then Country and Western might be your genre.  There are plenty of people dying off or running away for Christmas.  Johnny Cash gave us the “Ringing The Bells For Jim.”

Yes, Jim is dying throughout the song, but it does sound like he will make it in the end.  On the other hand, none of us make it in the end.

Marty Stuart chipped in with “Even Santa Claus Gets the Blues.”  It seems his favorite reindeer was lost in a hurricane.  I’m not sure why they were in a hurricane exactly.  Rumor has it that the reindeer was Dasher and not Rudolph, just saying.  You can download the blues on MP3 and there is even a website that will teach you how to play it on your guitar.

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Rock and Roll pumped out plenty of sad songs over the years.  Marvin Gaye said “I Want To Come Home For Christmas.”  As we know, Marvin should not have gone home at all.  Early rockers, the Everly Brothers, told us “Christmas Eve Can Kill You.”  And of course, Taylor Swift has written about another boyfriend breakup in “Christmases When You Were Mine.”  That’s not surprising since she breaks up with all of them rather quickly.

The rock and roll list is rather substantial.  I have some of them for you in my top 10, so on with the blues!

10. Someday At Christmas, Stevie Wonder  The pop star tells us that things may be better someday, but “Maybe not in time for you or me.”
9.  The Little Boy That Santa Forgot, Nat King Cole  Not only did Santa forget him “he hasn’t got a daddy.”  This one might make number 1 for some people.
8.  Christmas Shoes, Bob Carlisle  A little boy wants to get his mother a nice pair of shoes for Christmas.  It seems she is dying and he wants her to have a nice pair when she gets to Heaven.  This ranks 10 on the Tear-Jerk meter. (Link version by NewSong).
7.  Same Old Lang Syne, Dan Fogelberg  Despite the title, the lyric is actually set on Christmas Eve where the singer meets a former lover.  At the end, the lovely Christmas snow turns to rain.
6.  I’ll Be Home For Christmas, Bing Crosby  You may know this by another artist but Crosby was the first.  Recorded in 1943 during World War II, it seems the fighting boys will only be home in their dreams.

The top 5 may have brighter and more popular music, but they still have sad lyrics.
5.  Last Christmas, Wham  A lot of rockers have gone for this one, including Taylor Swift.  It is her kind of song.  You know, “Last Christmas I gave you my heart. The very next day you gave it away.”

4.  Merry Christmas Darling, The Carpenters  The song came out in 1970 right after the duo hit the big time.  Lovers are apart at Christmas and Karen delivers a sad sound as only she could.

3.  Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Judy Garland  If you think this melancholy song is sad now, consider that director of “Meet Me In Saint Louis,” the movie where the song first appeared, found it so depressing he ordered the lyric rewritten.  The director, by the way, was Vincente Minnelli, one of Judy Garland’s husbands.

2.  Blue Christmas, Elvis  This one would have to be on everyone’s list.  As you will see in this live version, a thin and sweaty Elvis makes all the girls swoon while he sings sad lyrics at them.  I don’t think they were listening anyway.

1. Please Come Home For Christmas, The Eagles  The original version was by blues singer Charles Brown.  Released in 1960, it made number 1 on the Christmas chart in 1972. The Eagles had a mega-hit with it in 1978 and it actually appears on their Greatest Hits album, which was a huge seller.

Categories: Christmas, Entertainment, Holidays, Music, Rich Paschall

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14 replies

  1. Now, are you talking sad, sad? Or jump off a building sad? Here’s one for the Blue Christmas crowd…
    One Parent Christmas
    Saffire-The Uppity Blues Women.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Sunday Night Blog and commented:

    It looks like it is time for a week of Christmas posts. I have added links to titles six through ten just in case you need a really sad holiday moment.


  3. I work in retail, so I hear a LOT of Christmas music. You wouldn’t think stores would want to play sad holiday tunes, yet at least half of the songs on this list (including your #1) are getting played to death at work. And with apologies to The King, “Blue Christmas” will always be a Porky Pig song to me (look it up if you’ve never heard it before!)…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Christmas is difficult for many – listening to these songs will only make it worse.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Christmas time can be a difficult time for many people. There are a lot of expectations and some will never be met. The pressures can be enormous hence the blues.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” is my favorite yuletide tear jerker. We watched “Meet Me In St. Louis” again last night and misted up a bit as Judy sang to Margaret.
    The song has been used as a counterpoint in several films including Carl Foreman’s “The Victors”. Frank Sinatra is heard singing it plaintively amid gory scenes of war and death as Christmas is “celebrated” during WWII.
    I used it in similar fashion for A Christmas television news feature in which I told about a homeless friend whose body was found with my business card in his pocket.
    Some of my colleagues praised the piece.
    An old friend called it maudlin.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Garry. I guess the familiarity of the song lends itself to use on sad films. Some have tried to deliver it with a hopeful tone “Next year all our troubles will be out of sight.” It is still sad for the present, just like I’ll Be Home for Christmas.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I hated that song for years, then, suddenly, at the point where some of my friends were dead, my brother was lost to me and most of my family was buried, I heard it on my car radio and cried through the whole song and then some. Having had a few “little” Christmases (just me, dogs and a tree) I “get” the song. Now I like it. I’ll have to watch “Meet Me in St. Louis.”

      Liked by 1 person

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