Songs about difficult Decembers?
December 25, 2007 11:43 PM   Subscribe

My sister is having a rough month. She's toughing it out through a Jerry Springer-scale divorce drama while dealing with potentially serious medical problems. She's asked me to find songs for a compilation about difficult Decembers to help her get through.

It's fine if it mentions Christmas but it shouldn't be a Christmas-centered song. She's already got "A Long December" by Counting Crows, and Merle Haggard's "If We Make It Through December." I was thinking about throwing in Tom Waits' "Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis" and possibly Imogen Heap's "Just For Now" (thanks to this thread), but I'm pretty stumped after that.

My sister is doing amazingly well considering the circumstances, but it's a rough time, and particularly tough due to the constant presence of cheery Christmas music.

I'd appreciate any help you have to offer.
posted by MrVisible to Media & Arts (27 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Matt Costa's Cold December?
posted by rhapsodie at 12:12 AM on December 26, 2007

My December by Linkin Park seems like an obvious choice...

Once Upon A December from the mediocre animated flick Anastasia might work, but it's lamenting memory loss so I'm not sure. In a similar vein, Dan Fogelburg's sentimental "Another Old Lang Sign" is sort of a lament and reflection of a past love that takes place around Christmas/New Year's.
posted by Squee at 12:18 AM on December 26, 2007

"That Was The Worst Christmas Ever" by Sufjan Stevens, maybe? It's hideously depressing and really more about family problems than Christmas itself.

"December" by David Gray might be a good one, too.
posted by Gianna at 12:37 AM on December 26, 2007

Mazzy Star's "Flowers in December" is pretty much the definition of what you are looking for, I think:

Send me your flowers, of your december
Send me your dreams, of your candy wine
I got just one thing I cant give you
Just one more thing of mine

Also, maybe John Prine's bittersweet "Christmas in Prison", which is more about loneliness than it is about Christmas, really.

It was Christmas in prison
And the food was real good
We had turkey and pistols
Carved out of wood

Iron and Wine's 'Faded from Winter' also comes to mind, the gloomiest love song ever:

needlework & seedlings
in the way you're walking
to me from the timbers
faded from the winter

posted by Rumple at 12:44 AM on December 26, 2007

PS, best wishes to your sister.
posted by Rumple at 12:45 AM on December 26, 2007

OK, Mazzy Star on youtube is a better link to that song.

Might as well throw in "December Skies" (ignore the unrelated video imagery) by the Cowboy Junkies as well:

December skies, star will be rising.
Will we heed those lessons ringing
Through those dark december skies.

Time to kill our children
And sing about it.
Let's all kill our children
And sing about it.

posted by Rumple at 12:54 AM on December 26, 2007

Counting Crows. Long December.
posted by zerobyproxy at 4:35 AM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

The Pogues "Fairytale of New York" references Christmas a few times, but it's far from cheery.
posted by christinetheslp at 5:12 AM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Kate Bush - December Will Be Magic Again
posted by Melsky at 5:29 AM on December 26, 2007

Something Corporate's Forget December springs to mind:

Forget December
It won't be better than I remember it before
This month only could be so lonely
And not so homely anymore

posted by internet!Hannah at 5:36 AM on December 26, 2007

Kelly Clarkson's new CD - My December
posted by bobber at 6:02 AM on December 26, 2007

Brick, Ben Folds Five

6 am day after Christmas
I throw some clothes on in the dark
The smell of cold
Car seat is freezing
The world is sleeping
I am numb
posted by kjs4 at 6:50 AM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Try to Remember from the Fantasticks?

The last verse:
Deep in December it's nice to remember,
Although you know the snow will follow.
Deep in December it's nice to remember
Without a hurt, the heart is hollow.
Deep in december it's nice to remember the
fire of September that made us mellow...
posted by jaruwaan at 7:22 AM on December 26, 2007

If your sister likes oldies, there's a gem in Simon and Garfunkel's "I am a Rock"

"A winter's day
in a deep and dark December..."

and goes on to describe snow imagery which i can't quote accurately...
posted by kuppajava at 9:25 AM on December 26, 2007

The Waterboys got me through many a rough December (spent a few Decembers by myself soon after leaving home). It's a beautiful song.

December (from their title album)
Lyric sampling:

December is the cruelest month
but this time for once my cheeks are warm
After long years in the monkey-house
I am ready for the storm
Let them throw all their cannonballs
let all their strongmen come
I'm ready to go anywhere
through venom, sick and scum!
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 9:51 AM on December 26, 2007

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas;
Just like the ones I used to know...
posted by Pollomacho at 10:04 AM on December 26, 2007

Cheesy compared to all these actually decent suggestions, but "Hard Candy Christmas" sung by Dolly Parton.
posted by LeiaS at 10:53 AM on December 26, 2007

Seconding "Fairytale of New York," and I'll also suggest Harvey Danger's "Sometimes You Have to Work on Christmas" and Sean Na Na's "Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas)" (it's No. 2 on that list, which I'll note is a self-link ... I just don't know anyplace else online that has the song).

As a more general song for times of trouble like this, I always fall back to the Mountain Goats' "This Year," where the chorus is "I am gonna make it through this year if it kills me."
posted by jeffmshaw at 11:16 AM on December 26, 2007

December by Collective Soul.
posted by cabingirl at 11:41 AM on December 26, 2007

One of the saddest 'real' country songs I know is a non-hit by David Ball, the piano driven "12-12-84"

12-12-84, Ten O Clock at night
Funny how you can remember
Certain Moments in your life
I wish I could go back
To take back the words I said
Though it's been years since that night
They still echo in my head
A cold wind was blowing
It whistled through the pines
I told her I don't need her
And she told me goodbye
I remember embers dying
In the ashes and the coals
And like smoke up the chimney
I watched a true love go

Sadly I can't find a recording on-line, Amazon does have a snippet, but not one I would have chosen. (10th song).
posted by dawson at 11:48 AM on December 26, 2007

Oh, and anything by Joe Pernice. He's had a number of group and solo projects, band names include Scud Mountain Boys, Chappaquiddick Skyline, Big Tobacco, and the Pernice Brothers. Really sad, (but not emo), hauntingly poignant music.
posted by dawson at 11:56 AM on December 26, 2007

The Matches - December is for Cynics.

So to hell with holiday romantics
December is for cynics
December is for critics

posted by namewithoutwords at 12:37 PM on December 26, 2007

Al Stewart: Time Passages

It was late in December
The sky turned to snow
All round the day was going down slow
Night like a river beginning to flow
I felt the beat of my mind
Go drifting into time passages
Years go falling in the fading light
Time passages
Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight

posted by davebush at 12:40 PM on December 26, 2007

"i hate december" by ivy

it's on their lately ep, and was also released as a mini-EP with remixes.
posted by polyester.lumberjack at 1:29 PM on December 26, 2007

Delicate December, by Erin Mckeown
posted by dizziest at 1:49 PM on December 26, 2007

Response by poster: I'm in the process of collecting and collating all the songs that were mentioned here. This could end up being an extraordinary mix.

Thank you all for your knowledge, your compassion, your understanding, and your impeccable taste. I knew I could count on the legendary hive mind.
posted by MrVisible at 9:28 PM on December 26, 2007

I know I'm a little late to the thread but I'd like to add Leonard Cohen's "Famous Blue Raincoat" to the list.

It's four in the morning, the end of December
I'm writing you now just to see if you're better
New York is cold, but I like where I'm living
There's music on Clinton Street all through the evening.

posted by Tenuki at 4:45 PM on September 28, 2008

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