Solstice Songs Thursday – Let us to the darkened woods

Photo: J. Aird

Well, this really is it – the final batch of seasonal songs for the year.  Apologies to all those we couldn’t fit in, we’ve really done out best.  And what have we today?  Darkened woods, the sun low in the sky and a dusting of snow…the Winter Solstice is upon us and we must fulfil the rites appropriate to the day – mostly, we have to admit, a bunch of toe-tapping tunes and perhaps the imbibing of a heady brew.  That sounds nice.  It’s that or cavorting with satyrs under a misplaced London street lamp.

Let’s start with a big song from a big name – Bright Eyes have produce a cover of John Prine‘s ‘Christmas in Prison‘ which they are releasing in order to raise funds for The Hello In There Foundation, which was set up to honour John Prine’s memory and aims to identify and collaborate with individuals and communities to offer support for people who are marginalized, discriminated against or, for any reason, are otherwise forgotten. The recording features a sample of Prine singing the same song.

John Hewitt wrote ‘Prairie Christmas‘ whilst on tour in November 2022  – it’s a tribute to the Christmases of his youth when he grew up in a house in Sault Ste.Marie Ontario that was overrun with the holiday spirit.  ‘Prairie Christmas‘ features U.S National fiddle champion Hannah King ,Nashville songwriter Abigayle Kompst and Edmonton supergroup the New Americans.

Reflecting on a different kind of Christmas Asha Jeffries is contemplating how to get through the holiday period whilst managing to ‘Keep My Shit Together.‘  We have to admit that on this sparkly video our favourite bit is when Jeffries starts a small fire off screen…be careful with sparklers people.

Less hopeful is the latest Christmas song from the legendary EELS, and the title is a hint to the topic – ‘Christmas, Why You Gotta Do Me Like This.’  It’s an  alternative yuletide ballad with a traditionally morose, EELS twist, the song is a tale of unrequited love at Christmas time as E / Mark Oliver Everett says, “I mean, seriously. Haven’t I always been good to you, Christmas? Enough with the coal in my stocking. For fuck’s sake.”  It can be found on the new comilation release from EELS, ‘EELS So Good: Essential EELS, Vol.2 ‘ which is out now.

Continuing down this Solstice rabbit hole of gloom and sadness let’s take a listen to the Scandicana of Sofia Talvik who is going to be ‘Alone for Christmas.’  And if that’s not bad enough, she adds “again” – ouch.  You’ll be getting your seasonal hit of Cellos on this one.   Sofia Talvik is no stranger to seasonal songs having made it her tradition to write and release a free Christmas single every year. She has also re-imagined, re-recorded, re-mixed and re-mastered these songs to make them come together as an album, ‘When Winter Comes, A Christmas Album‘, that focuses on the darker side of Christmas.

Addressing a topic that’s quite unlikely to happen again, The Holiday Hustle Club have got all excited by a single snowflake with the hope that it’ll signal the start of a ‘Snow Day.‘  Yeah, these days they’ll just run an on-line class – that’s another tradition gone the way of the Dodo.   Oh, and not to mention Climate Change…oh well, we can dream.

And finally – since it is in fact the Solstice today – it seems only fitting to finish with another offering from A Winter Union.  Their latest album is ‘Soon After Solstice‘ and this opens with a take on the Jethro Tull song ‘Ring Out, Solstice Bells‘.  Happy festive season everyone!


About Jonathan Aird 2689 Articles
Sure, I could climb high in a tree, or go to Skye on my holiday. I could be happy. All I really want is the excitement of first hearing The Byrds, the amazement of decades of Dylan's music, or the thrill of seeing a band like The Long Ryders live. That's not much to ask, is it?
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