This is Phoebe Bridgers season. The Los Angeles singer and songwriter is on one of those runs where everything she does seems to work out. Last year, she released a great debut album. She is one third of Boygenius, and they released a great EP a few weeks ago. She has made music with Conor Oberst, one of her primary inspirations. And now she’s made a Christmas song, and it’s just stunning.
This actually isn’t the first time Bridgers has made yuletide music. Last year, she released a cover of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” and if she wants to make an annual tradition out of this, that seems like a good idea to us. Because her brand-new “Christmas Song” is just an absolute killer.
“Christmas Song” is a cover of a 2008 track from the Omaha band McCarthy Trenching. It’s all about being lonely at the holidays — how this time that’s supposed to be so full of cheer and spirit can be a total soul-wrecker if it shows up at the wrong time for you. Bridgers’ song is gorgeous and cathartic. It’s tender and slow, and it builds up to a devastating climax. There are sleigh bells on the song, a nice touch. Jackson Browne sings backup, and you are not going to believe this, but he is good at that. Below, listen to Bridgers’ cover, the McCarthy Trenching original, and read what Bridgers has to say about it.
McCarthy Trenching is singer-songwriter Dan McCarthy’s band. We played a show together in Omaha this last year. They named the band after the trenching company owned by Dan’s uncle so they could sell those t-shirts instead of having to make their own. The first time I heard this song it hit me like a ton of bricks. A lot of McCarthy Trenching songs do that. It’s not that often that I hear a Christmas song that doesn’t make me want to quit music. I played a show in L.A. around the holidays last year where I covered it for the first time. Jackson Browne was there, and he came up to me after the show to tell me how much he loved the song. A couple days later, Dan got a Bandcamp notification on his desktop computer that someone paid 50 bucks for his record and wrote a nice note and signed it Jackson Browne. He thought someone was fucking with him. So when I decided to record a version of the song, I knew who I wanted to sing on it. Plus, I have wanted to make music with Jackson as long as I’ve wanted to make music.
“Christmas Song” is out now on Dead Oceans.