The tastemakers at Pitchfork have just published a list of the 50 best holiday tracks of all time, and Minnesota is well-represented. In keeping with the list’s overall tilt toward contemplative rather than exuberant Christmas songs, both selections by local artists are decidedly in a somber mood.
“Another Lonely Christmas” lands at number 13. “Nobody wallowed in seasonal despair as beautifully as Prince,” writes Stephen Thomas Erlewine about the “I Would Die 4 U” b-side. Noting the atypical details of Prince’s sad holiday (“He remembers how his lover screamed because she hated the number nine, and now that she’s gone, he drinks banana daiquiris until he’s blind”), Erlweine calls the song “an anthem for everybody who has ever spent Christmas alone, haunted by how things used to be.”
Duluth slowcore icons Low take the number 30 slot with their 1999 take on “Little Drummer Boy.” Mark Richardson praises the band’s Christmas EP as “a holiday classic,” calling the selected song “one for the ages; it’s built around a drone and overlaid with a fine mist of reverb and processing that evokes both snowfall and shoegaze, soft as snow but warm inside.”
Another local connection on the list comes at the number two spot, which goes to the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s “Christmastime is Here.” The song was written and recorded for the beloved Charlie Brown Christmas special inspired by Peanuts creator Charles Schulz’s St. Paul childhood.
The best Christmas song of the rock era? Pitchfork picks Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” further cementing that track’s revered status in the holiday canon. Love will perform at the Ordway on Nov. 30, just a couple of days after her fellow “Wall of Sound” alumna Ronnie Spector plays the Dakota.
The Pitchfork piece opens with a holiday reflection by Spector, who writes, “Just like when I was a kid, I still wait for Christmas each year — for the brightly colored lights, Frosty the Snowman, and Santa. And the best Christmas gift for me is when I am driving at home in Connecticut to get milk and cookies for Santa, I turn on the radio and hear my version of ‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus’…and I think to myself, Santa has been pretty good to me all these years.”
Prince 4Ever Giveaway
Use this form to enter The Current’s Prince 4Ever giveaway between 11 a.m. CDT on Monday, Nov. 21 and 11:59 p.m. CDT on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016.
Five (5) winners will receive one (1) double CD copy of Prince’s 4Ever album. Three (3) back up names will be drawn.
Prize retail value: $15
We will contact the winners on Monday, Nov. 28, 2016. Winners must accept by 10 a.m. CT on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016.
This giveaway is subject to Minnesota Public Radio’s 2016 Official Giveaway Rules.