I started this list at the end with U2’s version of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” (here) and near the end of the list we return to the song near the top. Written by Phil Spector, Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry, and sung in a roar of absolute passion and emotion by Darlene Love, with a full rock orchestra behind her, and horns blasting like overexcited angels, the song is a rollercoaster of heartache and beauty.
While it has been covered a lot, nothing compares to the rawness of Love’s vocal, she is breaking apart as she sings it, in this period of peace on earth and good will to all men, Darlene sings for everyone else. While it isn’t true that suicides rise during Christmas, what is clearly true is that loneliness does, that if it is tough living on the streets during the summer it is hell during the winter. And poverty is a leveling out when Santa doesn’t come to visit your cot in a dormitory in homeless housing quarters. In the richest country in the world.
At 22 years old, Darlene’s singing about other things, about the darkside of Christmas but “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” is a very sad song, it is filled with such loneliness and desperation, and it never reaches catharsis, the song has no happy ending. It ends where it starts, it starts where it doesn’t feel like Christmas at all and in doing so is one of the saddest Christmas songs you will ever hear.