I used to reject Christmas for various reasons but part of my rehabilitation back into the festive spirit involved wintry music. I have a playlist that I only allow myself to listen to after Halloween, and it makes those difficult months November and December a lot more twinkly.
Winter songs should meet certain criteria. They are often sad, bittersweet and melancholy: evoking the chill and darkness of winter. But they are also magical and poignant, not miserable (although miserable also suits the season). They sound good with fairy lights, dark rooms and snowstorms. My current winter songs are below.
1. Winter Song by The Head and the Heart. Sad, hopeful, hopeless.
2. Goodbye England (Covered In Snow) by Laura Marling
We will keep you,
We will keep you, little one,
Safe from harm, like an extra arm,
You are a part of us.
3. Sun-kissed Snow by Scala & Kolacny Brothers. All their December stuff is magical. Play it in a candle-lit room. Their version of Last Christmas is fabulous.
4. Snowfall by Ingrid Michaelson
Won’t you bury me,
In your quiet love?
5. Red Ribbon Foxes by A Fine Frenzy
6. The Snow Angel and The Icicle Sword by Ian McGlynn
Leave this place,
Go and keep my girl safe.
7. Winter: Lux Aeterna by London Ensemble. Christmas apocalypse. Give it a chance and it will haunt you. Encapsulates the oppression of Boxing Day with the family.
8. Donna & Blitzen by Badly Drawn Boy
9. Lighthouse by Patrick Watson. Ikea is the abyss but they tend to choose good songs. Sad, spare.
10. Warm Foothills by Alt J. The whistling grows on you.
11. Hear The Bells by Vanessa Carlton
12. Silent Night by Damien Rice. No cheer here.
13. It’s Been Christmas Here by Blondfire
14. I’ll Be Home for Christmas by Holly Conlan. Insistent.
15. Winter by Joshua Radin
I should know who I am,
16. Listen, the Snow is Falling by Thea Gilmore. Hushed.
17. This one by A Fine Frenzy.
18. Winter Song by Sarah McLachlan. Haunting as only a winter song can be. Has she lost someone very close to her? Most definitely. Tear-jerker.
19. Winter Song by Sara Bareilles/Ingrid Michaelson. Is she on a remote island collecting her own tears in a bowl waiting for her lover to come back from war? Yes. Gorgeous.
20. Wuthering Heights by Albert Niland. Take a hipflask and listen to this on the moors. Little-heard wintry gem.
21. This one by The Bird and the Bee:
22. Lullaby from Pan’s Labyrinth. Spectral. Snowy forests.
24. River by Joni Mitchell
25. The Christmas Song by The Raveonettes. Overused for adverts but meets the criteria.
26. Ice Dance by Danny Elfman. This man only comes out in winter.
27. This one by The Head and the Heart:
28. Maybe Next Year by Meiko
29. Winter Winds by Mumford and Sons. If you can get past the waistcoats and banjos this is a good wintry number.
30. The Heartache Can Wait by Brandi Carlile
30.1. Special mention for ALL of Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago. Pure winter: music for dark days. My beloved November to March album.
That’s What I Want For Christmas by Nancy Wilson. This is is full-on Christmas, but it’s lush, languid and the perfect accompaniment to steamed-up windowpanes and hot toddies. Has slightly weird lyrics:
When I walk through a room,
let them see you need me.
If you’re feeling shit about Christmas:
I would love for people to PLEASE suggest any similar music that I can add to my winter playlist. If it’s not on rotation in Poundland it probably qualifies.
Any other wintry favourites out there?