December Playlist

If on a Winter’s Night…

I am someone who always prefers a non-Christmas Christmas movie over a traditional one. You know the kind? Those that are seasonably appropriate but inspiringly askew? So it should not come as a surprise that I am fretting the intake of Christmas carols boasting of the holiday cheer and saccharine sentiment throughout the month of December.

It’s not that I am too categorical – I sing “Jingle Bells” and “Moș Crãciun cu plete dalbe” (a Romanian Christmas carol) with my son every night (he just loves a catchy tune) and I will even put up with one or two traditional holiday songs now and then. But too much is just too much. It’s hard enough for me to comprehend how it is that the city has been decked for Christmas since the beginning of November (seemingly, it happens earlier and earlier every year). What is the rush? Let’s try to live in the moment, shall we?

Sting photographed by Tony Molina | “If on a Winter’s Night…”

So, if you are like me and looking for an antidote to the regular holiday tune, I have put together a playlist with what I have been listening to and plan to listen for the entire month. Just one of them is a thematic song, but a different kind thereof, as you can read below where Sting explains the inspiration for his album, “If on a Winter’s Night…” And if I am to recommend an entire collection of winter-themed songs, that same album is my wholehearted choice. Here is what the musician says about it:

“Like many people, I have an ambivalent attitude towards the celebration of Christmas. For many, it is a period of intense loneliness and alienation. I intentionally avoided the jolly, almost triumphalist, strain in many of the Christian carols. I make a musical reference to “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” only as a dramatic counterpoint to the words in “Soul Cake”, for example. This was a song sung at Halloween by children who go from door to door asking for pennies and “soul cakes” (the latter not originally intended for the living). I was also keen to avoid the domestic cosines of many of the secular songs, recognizing that, for many, winter is a time of darkness and introspection.

Likewise, I was attracted to Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem “Christmas at Sea” because it describes so well the powerful gravitational pull of home that Christmas exits on the traveller. […]

It would have seemed strange not to make reference at least to Schubert’s great song cycle Winterreise, his masterly meditation on the season, and one of the inspirations for the present collection.

Walking amid the snows of winter, or sitting entranced in a darkened room gazing at the firelight, usually evokes in me a mood of reflection, a mood that can be at times philosophical, at others wildly irrational; I find myself haunted by memories. For winter is the season of ghosts, and ghosts, if they can be said to reside anywhere, reside here in this season of frosts and in this long hours of darkness. We must treat with them calmly and civilly, before the snows melt and the cycle of the seasons begins once more.”

Sting photographed by Tony Molina | “If on a Winter’s Night…”

My December playlist ranges from my favourite song from the aforementioned album, to one of the best closing songs in film (“Just Like Honey”, by The Jesus and Mary Chain, from the Lost in Translation soundtrack – if you aren’t familiar with my series where some of my favourite creatives and cinephiles share their favourite movie experience, you can check it out here), the one and only Charles Aznavour and, as always, Bruce Springsteen. Tune into my playlist below on Spotify, or, if you are not on Spotify, you can listen to each song on YouTube by following the respective links as follows.

1. Soul Cake, Sting / 2. Just Like Honey, The Jesus and Mary Chain / 3. Water of Love, Dire Straits /
4. Free Fallin’, John Mayer / 5. Tweeter and the Monkey Man, The Traveling Wilburys / 6. There Is
A Light That Never Goes Out
, The Smiths / 7. Skyfall, Adele / 8. Hate to See You Go, The Rolling Stones /
9. Anyway the Wind Blows, Eric Clapton and JJ Cale / 10. Going Back Home, Wilko Johnson and Roger Daltrey / 11. Lights of Taormina, Mark Knopfler / 12. Radio Nowhere, Bruce Springsteen / 13. What
Have I Done
, Jimmy Rogers / 14. Buckets of Rain, Bob Dylan / 15. Downtown Train, Tom Waits /
16. Smells Like Teen Spirit, Patti Smith / 17. Layla, Eric Clapton ft. Derek and The Dominoes / 18.
Emmenez-Moi, Charles Aznavour / 19. Pictures of You, The Cure / 20. Hey, Tonight,
Creedence Clearwater Revival



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