With the holiday season upon us, we also enter the time for everyone’s favorite genre of music: Christmas music. Whether it’s upbeat, happy Christmas songs or tracks the contain the sadness that seems to creep in during the holiday, these classic country Christmas tracks will always get you in the mood.
1. “If We Make It Through December” by Merle Haggard
Merle Haggard’s 1973 track “If We Make It Through December” is arguably one of the saddest Christmas-time tracks of all time. Even though the song is up-tempo with a fast-paced acoustic guitar, the lyrics are the definition of winter melancholy. The second verse is especially sad as Haggard sings with his warm vocals, I don’t mean to hate December / It’s meant to be the happy time of year / And my little girl don’t understand / Why daddy can’t afford no Christmas here.”
2. “Hard Candy Christmas” by Dolly Parton
Superstar Dolly Parton’s 2001 Christmas tune “Hard Candy Christmas” is another sad Christmas song that’s beloved by many due to the incredible songwriting and relatable lyrics. In the chorus she sings, “I’ll be 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.” The track has been covered by Reba McEntire, Kelly Clarkson, and Cyndi Lauper with Alison Krauss.
3. “Christmas Cookies” by George Strait
Country legend George Strait’s charismatic Christmas track “Christmas Cookies” is bound to get people in the Christmas spirit. The track is fun and flirty and the lyrics about cookies are endearing as he sings, “I sure do like those Christmas cookies, sugar / I sure do like those Christmas cookies, babe / The ones that look like Santa Claus / Christmas trees and bells and stars / I sure do like those Christmas cookies, babe.”
4. “Country Christmas” by Loretta Lynn
Singer-songwriter Loretta Lynn captures the jolliness of the Christmas spirit in her 1966 holiday track, “Country Christmas.” She sings, “Mommy pop the popcorn and we’ll string it on the tree / Apples, nuts, and candy oh what a Christmas feel / Daddy play the organ and we’ll all sing Silent Night / We’ll have a good old country Christmas alright.”
5. “Pretty Paper” by Willie Nelson
Although the track was made famous by Roy Orbison, Willie Nelson was the songwriter behind the tragic Christmas song “Pretty Paper” and his own version is fantastic as well. “Pretty Paper” was inspired by a real person: a disabled street vendor named Frankie Brierton who sold pencils and paper. Brierton was from Santo, Texas and Nelson knew him before he moved to Nashville. The tragic holiday song has become a favorite and has also been recorded by Randy Travis, Glen Campbell, and Kenny Chesney.
6. “Where Are You Christmas” by Faith Hill
Made famous by being on the soundtrack for the 2000 film, Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas with Jim Carrey, Faith Hill’s original track “Where Are You Christmas” is the winter ballad of our dreams. Hill’s well-known, powerful vocals are the obvious main attraction in this perfectly crafted Christmas song.
7. “Christmas Makes Me Cry” by Kacey Musgraves
Although this track is more recent, it was too good not to include. Though there are many gems on Kacey Musgraves’ Christmas album from 2016, A Very Kacey Christmas like “Ribbons And Bows,” “A Willie Nice Christmas,” and “Present Without a Bow,” the track “Christmas Makes Me Cry” captures that holiday blues like no other. The best line comes in the bridge when Musgraves sings, “Seems like everybody else is having fun / I wonder if I’m the only one / Whose broken heart still has broken parts just wrapped in pretty paper / And it’s always sad seeing mom and dad getting a little grayer.”
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