The holidays are known for being a bittersweet time of year. For some, it’s a happy time and for others, it’s a lonely, isolating time. Here are our favorite sad country Christmas songs.
1. “Lonely Christmas Call” by George Jones
Nothing says tragic Christmas song like “Lonely Christmas Call” by singer George Jones as he sings about a family missing important around the holidays. The song features haunting background vocals and a somber guitar that strums throughout the entirety of the track. Jones opens the track singing, “You left two years ago this Christmas / And we’re winding if you miss us / Don’t know why you ever left and went away / The kids’re lonely here without you / They even wrote old Santa ‘bout you.”
2. “Christmases When You Were Mine” by Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift’s 2008 Christmas EP The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection from 2008 features covers of joyful holiday classics like “Santa Baby” and “White Christmas,” but it also includes the heartwrenching “Christmases When You Were Mine” where Swift reminisces on past memories when her holidays weren’t so lonely. The standout lines come at the very end when she sings, “When you were putting up the lights this year / Did you notice one less pair of hands? / I know this shouldn’t be a lonely time / But there were Christmases when I didn’t wonder how you are tonight / ‘Cause there were Christmases when you were mine.”
3. “Hard Candy Christmas” by Dolly Parton
This is one of the best Christmas songs of all time. The storytelling in the songwriting is painfully honest and revealing and is the best example of how distressing it is to feel during the holiday season. Parton’s vocal performance is also a highlight; she sounds desperate and frustrated only elevating the emotions in the lyrics as 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.”
4. “Christmas Makes Me Cry” by Kacey Musgraves
Although Christmas is considered a happy time of year, Musgraves empathizes with those who can’t relate to those feelings on her song “Christmas Makes Me Cry” from her A Very Kacey Christmas album that was released in 2016. She sings, “It’s the ones we miss, no one to kiss under the mistletoe / Another year gone by, just one more that I, I couldn’t make it home / And I know that they say, ‘Have a Happy Holiday’ / And every year, I swear I sincerely try / Oh, but Christmas, it always makes me cry.”
5. “If We Make It Through December” by Merle Haggard
This track also made our Classic Country Christmas Songs list because it’s just that good. But it’s also just that sad. In the second verse, Haggard sings about losing his job and not being able to give gifts to his daughter exclaiming, “Got laid off down at the factory / And their timing’s not the greatest in the world / Heaven knows I been workin’ hard / Wanted Christmas to be right for daddy’s girl.” He also daydreams about getting through the colder day and making it to a warmer time and place.
6. “Christmas Always Finds Me” by Ingrid Andress
Although the more recent holiday song from Ingrid Andress has a hint of hopefulness, it still holds an umbrella of lingering sadness that we all feel when Christmas doesn’t feel the same as an adult. Andress sings with delicate vocals, “When silver bells and silent night / And mistletoe’s nowhere to insight / With no chance of snow falling down / Another year older / Little harder to believe / But somehow Christmas always finds me.”
7. “Blue Christmas” by Tammy Wynette
Country music icon Tammy Wynette’s rendition of “Blue Christmas” is emotionally charged with a chilling, sorrowful twang that makes it uniquely her own. It’s hard not to have a visceral reaction to Wynette’s vocal performance on this track. It’s devastatingly beautiful.
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