Holidays and heartbreak: The best non-Christmas Christmas song?

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As a young’un, whenever I would hear Elvis Presley‘s take on ‘Blue Christmas,’ I would think, ‘A blue Christmas? How can anyone possibly be sad on Christmas?’ ‘Maybe,’ I would think, ‘I’ll someday be able to relate to the song,’ as if I was outlining some self-fulfilling path of gloom.

Alas, as a properly grown man -- my action figures today are neatly dusted and on display rather than strewn about my floor -- I find that the holiday season means something very different from what it did when I was 9. Everyone has his or her own personal memories and nostalgic thoughts, and to continue on this path would be nothing but pure indulgence.

To put it more simply, occasionally I want something a little more serious than ‘Outer Space Santa.’ From a master at romanticizing heartbreak, Nick Cave, ‘I Do, Dear, I Do’ usually does the trick. Though simply an outtake from the 1997 album ‘The Boatman’s Call,’ it has long deserved a proper release, and offers a hint of the kind of beautiful sadness that could someday be a Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds holiday album. With themes of redemption and faith playing a central role in a number of Cave’s songs, the idea isn’t completely far-fetched.

Cave’s ‘I Do, Dear, I Do’ is a ballad of mixed emotions, a jumble of reminiscing and frustration at the memory of a loved one who is now with another man. Or as Cave describes him, ‘a gibbering goon.’ Very few can seduce with venom as Cave can.


So as he wishes his former love a ‘happy Christmas,’ and straddles the line between anger and devotion for seven minutes, Cave captures the grown-up mess of feelings that nails precisely what it means to have a ‘blue Christmas.’

-- Todd Martens