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5 Depressing Blues Songs For Christmas 

The holiday spirit, powerful though it may be, just doesn't work for everybody: Some folks simply hate the season. Maybe they're lonely, maybe they're broke, maybe they're depressed, maybe they're killjoys. Whatever the reason, "Jingle Bells" isn't everyone's cup of egg nog. If you count yourself among their ranks, here's a list for you. We hope it makes you feel better, and if it doesn't, look at it this way: If the only thing you get for Christmas is the blues, at least you're getting something.

5 Depressing Blues Songs For Christmas 

Victoria Spivey, Volume 1, 1926-1927

Christmas Morning Blues

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Victoria Spivey

  • Song: Christmas Morning Blues
  • from Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1926-1927)

Victoria Spivey was one of the first big blues stars and one of the few female blues songwriters of her time. "Christmas Morning Blues" is one of the earliest blues recordings to feature a "Christmas sucks" theme, and Spivey doesn't hold back. It's dire: "New Year's he won't be here, 'cause death will be his Santy Claus." And that's just the second verse. The great guitar accompaniment is provided by Lonnie Johnson, Spivey's longtime friend and frequent collaborator.

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Song
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1926-1927)
Album
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1926-1927)
Artist
Victoria Spivey
Label
Document
Released
2000

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The Best Of Early Basie

Good Morning Blues

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Count Basie With Jimmy Rushing

  • Song: Good Morning Blues
  • from Best of Early Basie

This early Count Basie recording has been somewhat forgotten as a Christmas blues, probably because the word "Christmas" isn't in the title, but it's a fine one. When the song was recorded, the Basie Band featured some of the most groundbreaking musicians in jazz history, including Lester Young, Jo Jones and "Sweets" Edison. Although this band set the standard for what swing should sound like, at heart it was a great big blues band with a great, round blues singer named Jimmy "Mr. Five By Five" Rushing. "Good Morning Blues" is big-band blues at its best, but these guys make it sound easy.

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Song
Best of Early Basie
Album
Best of Early Basie
Artist
Count Basie
Label
GRP Records
Released
1996

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17 Greatest Hits

Christmas Tears

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Freddie King

  • Song: Christmas Tears
  • from 17 Greatest Hits

Texas blues guitarist and singer Freddie King was a powerhouse player and a huge influence on the blues and rock guitarists of the 1960s. When a very young Eric Clapton covered King's classic instrumental "Hideaway" on his debut release with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, guitar fans sat up and took notice. In this 1961 recording, Freddie King makes no bones about how he regards the notion of spending Christmas alone.  (Clapton eventually covered this one, too.)

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Song
17 Greatest Hits
Album
17 Greatest Hits
Artist
Freddie King
Label
King
Released
2005

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Cover for Bullseye Blues Christmas

Lonesome Christmas [#]

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Lowell Fulson

  • Song: Lonesome Christmas [#]
  • from Bullseye Blues Christmas

In the postwar R&B scene on the West Coast, singer-guitarist Lowell Fulson was right up there with T-Bone Walker in popularity. His early bands featured such up-and-coming players as Ray Charles and Stanley Turrentine. Several of Fulson's recordings, including "Three O'Clock Blues," "Reconsider Baby" and "Tramp," are now considered blues classics. Fulson originally recorded "Lonesome Christmas" in 1950. This version, recorded in the early to mid-'90s, is faithful to the original and shows Fulson in fine form.

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Song
Bullseye Blues Christmas
Album
Bullseye Blues Christmas
Artist
Various Artists
Label
Bullseye Blues
Released
1995

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Blues, Blues Christmas

How I Hate to See Xmas Come Around

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Jimmy Witherspoon

  • Song: How I Hate to See Xmas Come Around
  • from Blues, Blues Christmas: 1925-1955

Singer Jimmy Witherspoon was another star of postwar blues on the West Coast. He was also probably the only blues singer who got his start in Calcutta, but that's another story. In this bluntly titled blues, Witherspoon takes us with him as he tries to scrounge up the money to buy a few Christmas presents. Things end badly, of course, which is exactly what you should expect from the final song in a list of low-down Christmas blues.

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Song
Blues, Blues Christmas: 1925-1955
Album
Blues, Blues Christmas: 1925-1955
Artist
Various Artists
Label
Document
Released
2005

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Get to know jazz, five songs at a time, with more Take Five lists.