Discussion: Sad Christmas Songs

I can’t get this one out of my head this year:

Merle Haggard, “If We Make it Through December”


I love sad Christmas songs.  Give me “Blue Christmas over “White Christmas” any day.

What are your favorite sad Christmas songs?  Do you prefer blue Christmas songs?


  1. I like the happy Christmas music, but there’s just something poignant about a sad Christmas song. They’re necessary; it’s real life. I love “Santa I’m Right Here” by Toby Keith and “Hard Candy Christmas” by Dolly. I’ll save the rest for an upcoming feature that I’m writing.

  2. Little pop music side note: The Roxette song “It Must Have Been Love” was originally a Christmas single called “Christmas for the Broken Hearted.” When they put it out as a regular single for Pretty Woman they changed only one word of the song, as “hard Christmas day” became “hard winter’s day.”

  3. Kevin, I just had a feeling you were going to go there…

    “Hard Candy Christmas” is one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs. For some reason, I really gravitate to sad songs this time of year. “Blue Christmas” is far and away the best Elvis Christmas song, IMHO. Even on the pop side of things, “Last Christmas” is a song about a heart that’s broken at Christmas. There’s something about hearing that sad type of song that makes you even more appreciative of the holiday once it’s over.

    Yeah…I’m weird, I know.

  4. ^I was going to say all of Johns. “Hard Candy Christmas” is sad but still uplifting in the same sense. To me “Blue Christmas” is really catchy so it’s not as a sad to me but whenever I have a bad Christmas that’s always better than some piece of fluff. I have a tradition of going to “Last Christmas” every year though.

  5. toby keith’s “Jesus gets jealous of santa claus” written by keith urban. it makes me sad that people have turned it into such a commercial holiday.
    there’s one by vince gill about getting through Christmas without his brother. i can’t think of the name of it and i was wondering if anyone knew?

  6. Reba’s “Santa Claus is Coming Back to Town” is also a good one.
    I never really know when to listen to sad Christmas songs–they’re too sad to listen to during the holiday season, but also Christmas-y enough that it feels weird to listen to it out of season.

  7. How about one that unintentionally has entered the holiday music lexicon–“River” by Joni Mitchell (written way back in 1971), in this case done by one of Joni’s contemporaries, Linda Ronstadt, on her 2000 X-Mas album A Merry Little Christmas.

  8. I came back to add Vince to the list, and Kevin beat me to it. The first one that came to mind, though, was “Til the Season Comes Around Again”. “Won’t Be the Same” is a killer sad song, though.

  9. Rachel Yamagata and Sarah McLachlan have both covered “River” as well. It’s one of my favorite x-mas songs *but that could be because it’s a Joni Mitchell song*

  10. “If We Make It Through December” certainly is a classic seasonal track. I also like “Blue Christmas” although I think Elvis ruined the song with the cheesy vocal backing – give me the 1948 Ernest Tubb recording of the song any day

    I tend to be very traditional in my Christmas music tastes which means I lean more to Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Julie Andrews, Nat King Cole and Johnnny Mathis than I do anything coming out of Austin, Bakersfield or Nashville

  11. It’s not really a Christmas song, but gets played as such (and I’m not sure why)but the saddest Christmas song ever is “God Bless the Child” by Shania Twain.

  12. One they play around here only at christmas, but is not really a christmas song — Collin Ray’s “What is Jesus Came Back Like That” —

  13. One they play around here only at christmas, but is not really a christmas song — Collin Ray’s “What if Jesus Came Back Like That” —

  14. I second Sarah McLachlan’s “River”, I think it’s just a little better than the original because Sarah’s vocals are so good on it. Also, although not country(neither was the Sarah cover one), Linkin Park’s “My December” is haunting, and while not exactly christmas, it still has that cold winter feel to it.

  15. Faith Hill’s “Where Are You Christmas” and Raul Malo’s “A Not So Merry Christmas” are sad but well-done holiday recordings. SheDaisy & Rascal Flatts had a mean-spirited recording – “The Twist Of The Maji”??? – that is among my top 5 worst holiday tunes ever.

    Finally, George Strait’s “Noel Leon” is very sad for me because my dad’s name was Leon and he was born at Christmastime.

  16. The Carpenter’s “Merry Christmas Darling” is so melancholic, yet so peaceful and soothing. Amy Grant’s “Breath of Heaven.” This one is not so much sad as it is somberly sublime and delicately presented in Grant’s restrained alto.

  17. Rodney, I like Grant’s “Breath of Heaven” too. Sadly, I do not like Vince Gill’s version. He has to reach oo hard for the high notes, which is something Vince shouldn’t have to do.

  18. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas is my favorite and actually really sad. Hopeful, yes, but sad. The original lyrics before Judy Garland requested they be changed were actually morbid:

    “Have yourself a merry little christmas/
    This may be your last/
    Next year we may all be living in the past”

    “Faithful friends who were dear to us/
    Will be near to us no more”

    Talk about depressing…

  19. I LOVE “If We Make it Through December” …and I love any sad country song, so its only fitting this time of year I love any sad ountry Christmas song! Kenny and Dolly’s “The Greatest Gift of All” is a sung very well by the dynamic duo (…and Kenny sounds o.k. too – heh heh heh…) Not really a sad song, unless you are alone, then I guess “Jingle Bells” might be sad too… If you have Kenny and Dolly’s “Once Upon a Christmas” album, give it another listen -It will surprise you how well it has held up after all these years. If not, buy yourself a copy…Dolly needs the money…

  20. Even though she’s not popular here…I LOVE
    Taylor Swift’s “Christmases When You Were Mine”.
    “For me it’s just a lonely time/’Cause there were Christmases when you were mine”.

    And of course Dolly Parton’s “Hard Candy Christmas”.

  21. I am looking for a name of a sad but wonderful christmas song, but i cant remeber name os song or singer its got the lines

    “but It ment alot to you and me”

    Its was a male singer

    help and thanks

  22. Im trying to think of this one song yet it so hard, I know it exist but cant think of it. All i really know is a little girl is singing it. Does anyone know songs that little girl is singing?

  23. Another Christmas song that I feel is very poignant is one that Elvis recorded back in 1966 called “If Every Day Was Just Like Christmas”, because the idealism it embodies in the lyrics always seems impossible:

    Oh why can’t every day be like Christmas
    Why can’t that feeling go on endlessly
    For if every day could be just like Christmas
    What a wonderful world this would be.

  24. Can anyone remember a country christmas song about a family living on the street and a christmas letter from a child wondering if santa will find them.

  25. I have been looking for a song for years for my father if anyone could help I would appreciate it. It’s about a man dressed up as Santa and his child comes to sit on his lap not realizing its him and says All she wants is her dad for Christmas. If anyone could help I would be so grateful!

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