Ho ho ho, pedal devotees! During this most wonderful time, we took to the streets to ask some of our esteemed artists which songs get them in the holiday spirit. From traditional songs to rock n roll renditions to Run DMC, our artists offered up quite a variety of holiday hits. Some of our artists have even written their own Christmas songs! And hats off to Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz and Sad13 for asking the age-old question of the Brenda Lee hit, "Strawberry Snow:" “What is strawberry snow? Is it snow soaked in blood? Is this song actually metal?”
Richard Fortus, Guns N’ Roses: I’ve always loved “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, from the movie Meet Me in St Louis. Perhaps it’s because it’s my home town, but this song always struck me as so sad, poignant and joyous all at the same time. Judy Garland’s performance is just so perfect and emotional. I covered it once at a Christmas show we did.
Arun Bali, Saves The Day, Craig Finn and The Uptown Controllers: A Charlie Brown Vince Guaraldi Christmas, probably “Christmas Time This Year. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home): by Darlene Love would be a runner-up.
Greg Cartwright, Reigning Sound, The Oblivians: Joy To The World. I like that song, I’ve always liked it. And it’s not even so much about the lyrics, it’s the melody. Which I used in my song ["If Christmas Can’t Bring You Home"]!
Whitney Petty, Thunderpussy: Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love Christmas music. It’s definitely Elvis Presley, “Santa Claus Is Back In Town”. That’s my shit, dude, that’s my shit. I love that whole record. My mom listened to Elvis’s Christmas on repeat so it’s ingrained in me.
Sarah Quintero, Spotlights: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Dio.
Jeff Tweedy, Wilco: "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” by John and Yoko.
Aaron Rieseberg, Yob: My favorite Christmas jam has to be "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)'' by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. A close runner up is Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby''.
Chris Darley, Father John Misty: Well, the Beatles boys are great at writing Xmas jingles...John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War is Over)”, Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmas Time”, and The Beatles’ “Christmas Time Is Here Again.”
Tim Stewart, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, KNIVES: I guess my favorite would be “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole, which I used to think was called "Chestnuts" when I was a kid, haha!
Tim Lefebvre, Tedeschi Trucks Band: I personally love the Nat King Cole Christmas song!
Juan Alderete, Marilyn Manson, Dr Octagon, Deltron 3030, Halo Orbit: Run DMC, “Christmas in Hollis”.
Jenn Wasner, Wye Oak, Flock of Dimes: This is a tough call because I actually have a secret soft spot for nostalgic holiday music. I grew up listening to Brenda Lee's holiday album, which I adore because it's beautiful but also, under the surface, deeply sad. And everybody knows that the best Christmas songs are the ones that are secretly sad. This time I'll go with “Strawberry Snow”.
Sadie Dupuis, Speedy Ortiz, Sad13: Here are five. Mostly bleak ones! And some of them are a bit of a stretch!
Clipse, “Ride Around Shining”. Pusha T's aptitude for wintry metaphors has been well documented, but it's his refrain of "when I'm shoveling the snow man call me Frosty, lover" that really gets me in the solstice spirit. Ok, yes, I know he's not talking about *that* kind of snow.
The Replacements, “Beer For Breakfast”. Yet another festive tune about mood-altering substances! My favorite rendition of "White Christmas."
The Pretenders, “2000 Miles”. When I was first getting into home recording, my mom asked me to track a cover of this song for her for Christmas. At the time I treated it kind of begrudgingly--I must've been 17, tops, and didn't "get" what the song was all about - but now that I'm older, I'm better acquainted with grief, loss, loneliness, and wintertime sadness.
Brenda Lee, “Strawberry Snow”. Her voice carries her sadness - and her bratty-ness - better than almost anyone. That's why her Christmas classics get played nonstop every year. But I love this weird-ass song, also from her Christmas album, because I don't understand it at all. What is strawberry snow? Is it snow soaked in blood? She's singing about a witch. Is this song actually metal?
Rilo Kiley, “Xmas Cake”. For this awesome Christmas song that dwells in physical insecurity and financial anxiety and falling apart before the New Year, let us all praise Jenny Lewis.
[Ed. note: Sadie’s released some awesome Christmas songs too – check these out!]
Anna Blumenthal handles Sales and Artist Relations for EarthQuaker Devices. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, plays bass in Sit N Spin, DJs 60s soul and R&B at various Brooklyn bars, and has seen Cheap Trick over 30 times.