The ten most depressing country Christmas songs
Country music is a genre of dysfunction -- between the drinkin' and the cheatin', the relentless (and borderline creepy) adoration of one's "mama" and the occasional stint in the can. And yet, for as much as country artists love singing about the holidays, these themes rarely creep into country Christmas songs. We dug up a few gems -- country Christmas songs that do their part in keeping a little sin and sadness in the season.
10. Robert Earl Keen - "Merry Christmas from the Family"
The song's been covered by artists as varied as Jill Sobule, the Dixie Chicks and Montgomery Gentry, who took the tune to #38 in 2001, but Robert Earl Keen's original take on a Texas family Christmas, with its gravelly, sardonic delivery, remains essential. Notable lyric: Mom got drunk and Dad got drunk at our Christmas party. We were drinking champagne punch and homemade eggnog. Little sister brought her new boyfriend, he was a Mexican. We didn't know what to think of him until he sang Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad.
9. Everly Brothers - "Christmas Eve Can Kill You"
The Everlys are, like, the ultimate metaphor for country music and for Christmas. All cheery happy-go-lucky old-timey harmonizing shiny exterior, but a whole mess of, well, alcoholism and despair underneath. Pass the eggnog and a revolver, please. Notable lyric: The sound of one man walking through the snow can break your heart, and stopping doesn't help, so on I'll go. And Christmas eve can kill you when you're trying to hitch a ride to anywhere.
8. John Prine - "Christmas In Prison"
Humorous and poignant (does he write any other kind of song?), this tune first appeared on Prine's 1973 album Sweet Revenge , and reappeared on his 1994 Christmas album. Yes, even John Prine has released a Christmas album. Notable lyric: It was Christmas in prison and the food was real good. We had turkey and pistols carved out of wood. And I dream of her always even when I don't dream. Her name's on my tongue and her blood's in my stream.
7. Asleep at the Wheel - "Christmas in Jail"
Asleep at the Wheel continues the incarceration theme, albeit with less poignancy, more Western swing. Notable lyric: Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, they're singin' down the street. While everybody's having Christmas turkey, they bring me bread and water to eat.
6. Dale Watson - "You Can Call Me Nick"
And this time Santa's in jail; the tale of an illegal immigrant. Notable lyric: He said the cops had picked him up because he looked a little strange. And he couldn't give an address and he couldn't prove his name. Besides he looked like an immigrant, his skin was dark and tough. He couldn't even name our President. And then if that weren't enough it seems he didn't even have a family, and his friends lived far away. That old judge fined him half a grand, or one month and a day.
5. Mojo Nixon - "It's Christmas Time"
That "booger-eatin' moron" Mojo Nixon released a Christmas album, too. But he called it Horny Holidays , and well, that about explains it all. Notable lyric: I said honey child, you know what Christmas present I got for you? Unzip my pants, let my snake do a little dance. Unzip my pants, then I'll do a love dance.
4. Loretta Lynn - "To Heck With Ole Santa Claus"
Loretta Lynn wants to kick everyone's ass. But she'll be super cute about it! This song gives "Fist City" a run for its money. Notable lyric: So to heck with ole Santa Claus. When he goes dashin' through the snow I hope he falls. I'd like to hit him and his "ho ho ho" with a bunch of big snowballs. To heck with ole Santa Claus.
3. Homer & Jethro with June Carter - "Baby It's Cold Outside"
This song is creepy as all hell, even when Homer & Jethro and June Carter sing it. Especially when Homer & Jethro and June Carter sing it. NO MEANS NO. Dagnabbit. Notable lyric: The neighbors might think - But baby, it's bad out there. Say, what's in this here drink? - That ain't sarsparilly there. I wish I knew how - Your eyeballs are poppin' out now. To break this spell - I'll hold your hair, your hat looks swell. I ought to say no, no, no - Mind if we move in closer? Least I'm puttin' up a good fight - My this black eye sure is a sight. But I really can't stay - Oh baby don't hold out.
2. Stompin' Tom Connors - "The Snowmobile Song"
Fuckin' Canadians. Notable lyric: We tip the glass to the northern lass for she won't let ya kneel. She'd rather squeal...on a snowmobile.
1. Dolly Parton - "Hard Candy Christmas"
Bet your mom played this song for you when you were a kid. Bet you thought it was real sweet. Bet you didn't know it was written for a musical about a whorehouse. Notable lyric: Maybe I'll sleep real late. Maybe I'll lose some weight. Maybe I'll clear my junk. Maybe I'll just get drunk on apple wine. Me, I'll be just fine and dandy. Lord it's like a hard candy Christmas. I'm barely getting through tomorrow, but still I won't let sorrow bring me way down.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.