Track This: The Backslider's "Christmas Doesn't Have to be So Bad)" and BR549's "Truck Stop Christmas"

Over the last few years I have become increasingly enamored by original Christmas tunes. I'm not talking about mall soundtrack, elevator muzak, or the same old Bing Crosby songs that get pumped through public sound systems or bloat out oldies stations. I've been on the search for original Christmas songs since I bought the Flat Duo Jet's "I'll Have a Merry Christmas Without You" from Norton records years ago. But recently something has me searching for new stuff. I've compiled a collection of sad old country songs, rocking jump blues tunes, alterna-rock one-offs, and purely novelty creations.

Two of these tunes really struck a chord this year; I can't stop playing them. Austin's Backsliders  "Christmas (Doesn't Have To Be So Bad)" underscores the assumption that many people grow up and the holiday loses its meaning, yet there is still much to be happy about even when you aren't a kid. The song rocks along with sweet guitar licks and a catchy chorus. Roots rockers seem to come up with some of the best songs in the current Christmas Crop. I'd much rather hear this message than another stale rendition of "Silver Bells" or some other conspicuous consumption supporting holiday hit.

BR549's "Truck Stop Christmas" swings out of the gate like a lost Byrds classic, chiming guitars and forlorn vocals. A classic country Christmas song about being lonely during the holidays, "Truck Stop Christmas" rolls along, sounding all the world like it belongs on AM Country radio. Trucker songs generally tell forlorn stories (see Red Sovine's entire catalog). BR549 captures this spirit aptly, while managing to capture that honky tonk feel. Gary Bennett's song recalls Christmases of long ago, but also feels fairly contemporary. Christmas is often lonely for those who can't make it home.


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