Christmas has a way of getting complicated as we grow older. The colorful lights and beaming faces of children increasingly compete with memories of people and times that once were and are no more. Forced cheerfulness wears on a person. Today's blog is a soundtrack for all the people who want to sneak off into a corner and grieve a little while. (Note: I have not included Elvis Presley's "Blue Christmas" because, frankly, it's a pretty bouncy tune.)
For me, Joni Mitchell's "River" says everything you need to know about holiday loneliness and regrets.
When I was young, "O Holy Night" always had a special meaning in our house. Whenever the choir came to the line "Fall on your knees," my mother would cry. We lost our mother 24 years ago, and now my sisters and I cry when we hear it. This version by the King's Singers is not the one my mother cried to, but I think she would have liked it.
"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is a song that pretends to be happy. If you listen to this lovely version by Frank Sinatra, you almost miss the underlying sadness. The original version by Judy Garland makes it obvious. Go here for the video.
Bonus: Go here to listen to Tony Bennett's great version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" over scenes of Cary Grant and Loretta Young in The Bishop's Wife.
One last tune, and it's not about Christmas. It's "Kind of Blue" — the Miles Davis classic performed here with John Coltrane. It's the music I write to, so while it is a bit blue, to me it ultimately represents creation and life.
Have yourself as merry a Christmas as you can muster.