Advent song for December 16: Blue Christmas

Even Elvis doesn’t really think this is a sad song, as you can see in this live recording from his 1968 Comeback Special. My favourite thing about this video is the fact that the fans are all about eight inches from the King, and the stage looks like one somebody has jerryrigged for a school concert. That’s two favourite things, isn’t it? You see, I have a mince pie and a cup of tea so I’m incapable of bringing you the requisite amount of sadness. Don’t worry: as you know, there’s plenty to come.

Advent song for December 15: Please Come Home For Christmas

The Charles Brown original, rather than the Bon Jovi cover, though there is something to be said in favour of both. But this has a gentler and sweeter feel about it, and ends with a bell going DING rather than a screechy guitar solo, and so for that alone it is the winner. It’s another one that is wistful rather than sad but don’t worry, by the end of this week you’ll be a sobbing mess, I promise.

Advent song for December 14: Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis

From the opening line (Tom Waits at his gruffest, singing “Charlie, I’m pregnant”), this is an unlikely song, whose narrative gets more improbably distressing as it goes on. Our hooker has suffered almost every kind of misfortune you can think of, and some you probably can’t. It’s one of only two songs I can currently think of (the other is Carter USM’s England) where a male vocalist sings evocatively, articulately and heartbreakingly about being a female sex worker, and for that alone we should salute it.

Advent song for December 13: A Winter’s Tale

David Essex in his Kevin Rowland era here, looking both alarmingly cheesy and adorably beautiful all at once. My favourite David Essex fact is that when they made a jukebox musical featuring his back catalogue, it starred David Essex. This is a man who goes his own way, as indeed does the lover who leaves him in the lyrics of this song. Isn’t there something threatening, incidentally, about the line “I hope that love and strength are with you for the length of your time on earth”? As though if it has anything to do with David, that time might be limited? Just me, perhaps. Happy Saturday!

Advent song for December 12: Christmas Just Ain’t Christmas Without The One You Love

This is another one that’s much too happy to be a genuinely sad song. It has more or less the same sentiments as Last Christmas, but it’s much jollier, and I can’t imagine being able to sing it without smiling. There’s also an awesome key change around 01:40 and a triumphant bit of Penny Lane-esque trumpet which reaches its peak on around two minutes, so look out for those.

Advent songs for December 9 and 10: Santa Can’t Stay Another Day

Honestly, you can’t get the staff. All I needed was one of you to remind me, amid the bustle of a busy December Tuesday, that you were owed a song. However, today you get two, so it all works out in the end, though you may not agree by the time you’ve listened to them both.

Up first, my favourite Christmas number one of all, not counting Always On My Mind which I’m not because it’s not Christmassy, even though it did feature on 2010’s glad all over advent calendar. This also isn’t Christmassy until the bells right at the end, which they admitted later to having added in a bid to nab the number one spot. Canny boys, those East Seventeens. However, the video is the Christmassiest thing since Boney M in furs.

And in case that’s left you feeling unnecessarily cheery, here’s another MASSIVE DOWNER that’s more in keeping with this year’s theme of separation, family breakdown and drunken violence. You’re welcome!

Advent song for December 7: Christmas Eve Can Kill You

It’s not exactly clear from this uncharacteristically downbeat Everley Brothers number just how Christmas Eve Can Kill You. The options seem to include frostbite, being run over and being murdered by a driver when you hitchhike, but I expect there are other possibilities. This is another “Christmas away from the ones you love” song, although it’s not clear that our narrator has anyone left to love. It is a peculiarly sombre and solitary song and just right for the most wistful day of the week.

Advent song for December 6th: Family Life

Edit: now featuring the correct video!

Here on the gladallover musical advent calendar I always like to dedicate Saturdays to something a bit different, so here for your enjoyment is an anomaly: a song that both sounds and is sad, as well as being haunting and lovely. It was probably recorded around 1996, though factual information about the band, Glaswegians The Blue Nile, is often hard to nail down with any certainty. It is, in any case, a gorgeous listen and one which will set you up nicely for your Christmas shopping/trip to the garden centre/whatever it is you do on the first Saturday in December. Me? I’m off to visit a palace built by a Tsar.