George Bailey

The holidays aren’t always happy, at least not if you really listen closely to these classics. 

From our friends at

Please stop playing this music. It hurts me. It hurts me… so much.

Vince Guaraldi Trio, “The Charlie Brown Christmas Songs” 

“Peanuts” is already the most depressing thing on the face of the earth; in fact, reading Peanuts cartoons probably turned me into the maladjusted young man that I am today. As a kid, I read Charlie Brown and Snoopy because they were comic strips – but then, I would have read any comic strips, no matter what, just because they were in bright primary colors.

But without realizing it, I was absorbing Charlie Brown’s subliminal message, which is this : LIFE SUCKS AND THERE IS NO HOPE FOR ANYONE EVER. #GRIMANDDARK.

Don’t believe me about this? Here’s an actual “Peanuts” strip:

Snoopy is lying on top of his dog house in the middle of the night: “Sometimes, I stare up at the stars and wonder what my purpose in life is!”

“…And then it comes to me.”

He rolls over and shows us his huge melancholy searching eyes.

“…I haven’t the slightest idea!”

THAT’S THE ENTIRE COMIC STRIP, PEOPLE. Jesus Christ. And they’re all like that. Oy.

Anyway, the message of the Charlie Brown Christmas special, as far as I can tell, is this: “Eventually your friends might stop being dicks to you after an extremely long period of time.” …Uplifting-ish! Yay. And now, because of the Charlie Brown special, we all get to listen to downbeat melancholy jazz during the three-month “Christmas music” period. I can occasionally handle downbeat jazz, but it doesn’t exactly spell “celebration” to me, and certainly it doesn’t when I’m hearing it while I’m standing in line at CVS, while my nose is running, while I’m already worrying about spending time with my family. I’m not sayin’; I’m just saying. …Charlie Brown, you unhappy blockhead!

Traditional, “The Little Drummer Boy”

The Li-tttle Drummer Boy bhraum-bah-ba-buum. It’s in a minor chord, bhraum-bah-ba-buum. It sounds like a herd of suicidal elephants, BRHAUM-bah-ba-buum. …Please get me out of the CVS or wherever is playing this song… bhraum-bah-ba-buum.

Smashing Pumpkins, “Christmastime”

Aw HELL naw. Christmas and the Smashing Pumpkins should never be mixed, ever, ever. Which is to say, Christmas and goth-y sludge should never be mixed. Even hearing the first line of this song makes me want to off myself. Thanks a lot, Mr. Billy Corigan.

Traditional, “Good King Wenceslas”

If you actually listen to this song, it’s about a peasant starving to death. But he’s anice peasant, and he helps the king, so he gets saved and gets some food.

And then what? So he just goes back to his hovel after that? Sure his tummy is stuffed with roast beef or whatever, but how long’s that going to last?

And doesn’t giving the peasant a single good meal give him a “taste” for the non-peasant life, which is even worse, sort of? ‘Cause that’s all that happens in this song. The peasant gets one good meal. Then it’s back to hardtack and swill for him after that… forever.

“Hey, did I tell you about the time I had dinner with the King?” the peasant says for the rest of this life. “Yeah, yeah; shut up already, we’ve heard that story a million times before,” everyone else replies.

Bing Crosby, “White Christmas”

Great, you’re dreaming of a White Christmas. Oh, GOOD. GO-OOOOOD FOR YOU-UUUU. You know what, Bing? You’re essentially reminding me that I’m probablynot going to experience a White Christmas this year, since I’ve only had about three of those in my entire lifetime.

But more than that, let’s examine even the best-case scenario here. Say that I’m at home, surrounded by fires and baked hams and eggnog and loving relatives. Let’s say that even that is happening. Even if I am experiencing a “White Christmas,” this song is just making imagine an even better imaginary snowy Christmas that puts my own to shame. That’s the power of song, and of storytelling. Or, to quote the poet Stephen Mallarmé: “I say [the word] ‘flower,’ and outside the oblivion to which my voice relegates any shape…. there arises musically the one absent from every bouquet.

By describing the perfect Christmas — the X-mas absent from every bouquet, if you will — Bing Crosby in fact is ruining our own flawed human Christmases. That’s pretty heavy, I know, for a wacky list of depressing songs. But now I’ve put my degree in poetry to use.

Judy Garland, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”

Okay, this song is supposed to be depressing. Got that, people? Here are the original lyrics, which were subsequently changed in order to prevent people from throwing themselves off of bridges:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas, it may be your last,
Next year we may all be living in the past
Have yourself a merry little Christmas, pop that champagne cork,
Next year we will all be living in New York.

No good times like the olden days, happy golden days of yore,
Faithful friends who were dear to us, will be near to us no more.

But at least we all will be together, if the Fates allow,
From now on we’ll have to muddle through somehow.
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

Christ! It’s a song from a movie with Judy Garland where she moans about how awful her year is and how she’s moving to a different town and she’s going to miss the boy that she loves. As if just even thinking about Judy Garland isn’t depressing enough already. ‘Cause when I think Judy, I don’t really think “Christmas.” Rather, what I think is “alcohol, amphetamines, and anorexia.” Good times? And poor Judy! In conclusion, never play this song again.

Band Aid, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

Hey, it’s a morally dubious song for poor African folk! Sung by rich celebrities, yet! Gosh, that almost never happens.

Well tonight, thank god it’s them, instead of YEW-WWWW. Thanks for that, Bono. You have now ruined, in order: (1) Christmas, (2) Charity, (3) The putative likability of Irish people, (4) The mullet, and (5) The name “Bono,” not that that one comes up very often.

The Pogues and Kristy MacColl, “Fairytale of New York”

Oh, hey, it’s another jaunty Irish tune! As though that whole Bono thing wasn’t bad enough:

You’re a bum,
You’re a punk,
You’re an old slut on junk,
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed.

You scumbag, you maggot,
You cheap lousy faggot,
Happy Christmas your arse;
I pray God it’s our last…

Ha ha! What a fun couple! They seem perfect for each other! Isn’t Christmas great? Merry blahness, and have a Happy New Year, everyone!


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