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Old 12-05-2019, 10:38 AM
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Songs with Christmas as the backdrop


I was listening to She's Right On Time by Billy Joel, and I realized that, even though it has a few oblique references to Christmas ("turn on all the Christmas lights," "when I set up my Christmas tree," and two references to choral music), the Christmas aspect is fairly immaterial to the song itself.

I know there have to be more songs like that. I'm specifically excluding Christmas carols, AND songs that are Christmas standards like "Winter Wonderland" that may not be Christmas songs, but are associated with the holiday anyway. I'd also like to stay away from any parody or otherwise humorous and/or novelty recordings.

So, come on, Dopers. What are some songs set around Christmas, where Christmas is not a plot point?
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Old 12-05-2019, 10:45 AM
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Missed the edit window:

Yeah, the video certainly takes place at Christmas. But the song isn't quite so specific.
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Old 12-05-2019, 10:49 AM
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"Brick" by Ben Folds Five (a song about abortion) takes place "six AM, day after Christmas" and the protagonist at one point goes to "sell some gifts that I got."
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Old 12-05-2019, 11:00 AM
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Prince's "Another Lonely Christmas"
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Old 12-05-2019, 11:01 AM
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"River" by Joni Mitchell and "Same Old Lang Syne" by Dan Fogelberg both mention Christmas early, but aren't really songs about Christmas. (I put 'em in my holiday music mix anyway.)
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Old 12-05-2019, 12:44 PM
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Hard Candy Christmas from The Best Little Whorehouse om Texas. Sung as the "ladies" trim a Christmas tree, it's really a where-do-we-go-from-here song.
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Old 12-05-2019, 01:03 PM
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Stop The Cavalry by Jona Lewie

I have no idea if this song is known at all in the US and elsewhere outside the UK - shame if it isn't, because it's a good little pop song. It was basically about war; releasing it for Xmas was a record company decision:

Quote:
In an interview for Channel 4's 100 Greatest Christmas Moments, Lewie said that the song was never intended as a Christmas hit, and that it was a protest song. The line 'Wish I was at home for Christmas' as well as the brass band arrangements made it an appropriately styled song to play around Christmas time....... The song's promotional video is set in the trenches of the First World War.
j

ETA: On reflection, this is almost exactly the opposite of what the OP asked. Oh well - sorry 'bout that.

Last edited by Treppenwitz; 12-05-2019 at 01:05 PM.
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Old 12-05-2019, 01:03 PM
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I've got two:
  • "Fairytale of New York" by The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl (It was Christmas Eve, babe, in the drunk tank...)
  • "Stagger Lee" by The Grateful Dead (1940, Xmas eve, with a full moon over town...)

Last edited by Mr. Greenjeans; 12-05-2019 at 01:05 PM.
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Old 12-05-2019, 01:17 PM
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Elton John's "Merry Christmas, Maggy Thatcher" from Billy Eliot: the Musical. Though it purports to be a Christmas song, it's actually an exercise in sarcasm and vitriol. Note the chorus:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee Hall
So merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher
May God's love be with you
We all sing together in one breath
Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher
We all celebrate today
'Cause it's one day closer to your death
(When Thatcher died, the cast asked the audience if it was appropriate to include the song. The answer was a resounding "Yes.")
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Old 12-05-2019, 04:22 PM
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Christmas by the Who. It's one song of the Tommy opera that just establishes Tommy's issues some more with Christmas as its backdrop.
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Old 12-05-2019, 04:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Greenjeans View Post
I've got two:
  • "Fairytale of New York" by The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl (It was Christmas Eve,
I'm torn about this. Yes, it's a unconventional non-festive song and of course it qualifies for this thread, but it's my personal favorite Christmas song and that of million others, especially in Britain, and it brings bitter-sweet emotions for me in every season, so it also works as a festive song.
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Old 12-05-2019, 05:05 PM
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Well if "Fairytale of New York" can sneak in, then surely we also have to allow 2000 Miles by The Pretenders?

j
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Old 12-05-2019, 05:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Treppenwitz View Post
Well if "Fairytale of New York" can sneak in, then surely we also have to allow 2000 Miles by The Pretenders?

j
I dunno what it says about me and my Christmas habits, but with almost every post an entry from my personal Christmas playlist comes up .
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Old 12-06-2019, 07:17 AM
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My favourite Christmas song is I Believe In Father Christmas by Greg Lake which - if you squint REALLY hard and are very charitable - ALMOST fits the OP since, according to Greg Lake himself, it is not a Christmas song but a protest against the commercialisation of Christmas. Possibly related to that the video is set in a desert.

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Old 12-06-2019, 07:31 AM
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Perhaps a better fit for the OP would be Frankie Valli and December 1963 (Oh What A Night) since it references "late December" in the lyrics but does not make any mention of Christmas.

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Old 12-06-2019, 07:39 AM
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"Cause Cheap is How I Feel" by Cowboy Junkies doesn't mention Christmas but it starts with:

It's the kind of night that's so cold, when you spit it freezes before it hits the ground
And when a bum asks for a quarter, you give a dollar; if he's out tonight he must be truly down
And I'm searching all the windows for a last minute present to prove to you that what I said was real
For something small and frail and plastic, baby, 'cause cheap is how I feel


Winter night, last minute present shopping, hrmm...

Last edited by Jophiel; 12-06-2019 at 07:40 AM.
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Old 12-06-2019, 07:40 AM
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The rather good All About Eve had a song called December which despite a passing reference to "the leaves saved from a mistletoe kiss" is not a Christmas song.

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Old 12-06-2019, 07:56 AM
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Tom Waits - "Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis"?
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Old 12-08-2019, 04:52 PM
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I'm going to suggest Wham!'s Last Christmas. Even though it's (inexplicably) become a seasonal staple, it's a song about lost love and really has nothing at all to do with Christmas. In fact, if you changed the title and lyrics to "Last Easter" or "Last Flag Day" or "Last August," it would not make one whit of difference as far as the song goes.

Last edited by Wheelz; 12-08-2019 at 04:52 PM.
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