About this Playlist
It’s that time of year – at least for those following the Julian calendar – and thoughts turn to festivals. Whether it’s Kwanza, Hanukkah, Christmas, the actual solstice itself – there’s just something about celebrating the turn of the seasons – when the days start to get shorter or longer. Those of us in the Northern hemisphere get to celebrate the return of the sun – while those in the South get to look forward to the harvest.
We threw this to the community and here they are:
Fifteen Songs For The Solstice
All Now – The Staves
Hat tip to @jon for recommending this for the Solstice List – I hadn’t thought of it before and now when I do – it’s bloody perfect. I’m viewing the Winter solstice from the northern hemisphere and from western culture – driven by the Gregorian calendar that defines the start of the new year.
But isn’t it often the case that most meta constructs humans come up with are driven by physical laws? Doesn’t matter what you’re celebrating at this time of year – what religion you follow or calendar you use – it’s just a fact that around this time the days stop getting shorter and start getting longer. If you want to bolt on a suitable celebration around that fact – I’m all for it.
I love how lyrically ambiguous this track is – aside from the obvious empowerment play – there’s a lot going on and while I’m not 100% sure what that is, I’m definitely here for it. The first time I heard the Happy New Year hook I was a little baffled but the more I listen the more it makes sense, and again – I don’t really know why.
But the track sits really on the list – it’s uplifting, it feels like a celebration – it could be anything to anybody and yet it’s centered around the changing of the seasons. yep. Sounds like a solstice to me.
Northern Attitude (with Hozier) – Noah Kahan
When I listen to Noah sing about his hometown, I think of the time of year when the day become shorter, the weather gets colder, and life just becomes more quiet and peaceful.
Northern Attitude reminds me to enjoy the present moment and the new year to follow! This version featuring Hozier just adds so much depth on top of all that.
Valhalla – Emancipator
I’m not the biggest fan of winter. Mainly because I don’t really like being cold, and I definitely don’t like deicing the car. I’m more of an ‘enjoy it from afar with a nice fire and a cup of tea’ kinda winter-enjoyer.
This is why I love this track. To me it’s all the warmth of winter. There’s plenty of it to be found, you just gotta know where to look. This is alpine huts and steaming wine. It’s the heat on your face and hands after a frosty walk. It’s not having to be up in the morning so the car can stay icy. Cosy blankets, snow on the window, festive films and a sleepy (thank feck) Winston on the rug (no doubt cooking himself in front of the fire because he insists on lying basically in it)
That’s the kinda winter I like!
Winter – Chip Wickham
there is a tenderness to everything
i seem to want the real deal healing
the kind that arrives into your life with intensity and integrity
i am entering a land seeded with strong willed grass and an even stronger sky
there is something about winter that confronts the nature of your liveliness
when the heart goes untouched
now that is something to be thankful for
that is something that brings the grandest love forward and let’s it rest in the heart of everything you are
Merry Christmas Baby (MNO Remix)
The Charles Brown recording of “Merry Christmas Baby” is wonderful as is, but the remixed version by MNO is a bonus. This recording captures the holidays with an R&B smoothness and lyrics that convey “party” in a way that really puts me in a year-ending holiday mood.
A Calf Born in Winter – Khruangbin
I guess there are few pictures in nature as beautiful and intimate as what’s described by the title and the notes of this song. The warm miracle of life in a dark and cold winter night, the mark of a journey starting exactly in that moment. From darkness, seeing the bright light of the farmer and then understanding that light is actually what gives rhythm to the world day after day.
If the Christian metaphor of “Christmas” had a soundtrack, I reckon this song must have been in that playlist. I wonder if Khruangbin had similar thoughts when they composed and named this song.
This Will Be Our Year by The Zombies
A song of hope for the cusp of a new start, ‘This Will Be Our Year’ is two minutes of joyous and uplifting piano pop. “You don’t have to worry,” sings Colin Blunstone, backed by Rod Argent’s medium-paced piano melody, “all your worried days are gone, and this will be our year, took a long time to come”.
Ironically, the year it was recorded was very much not their year. The story of The Zombies’ ill-fated album Odessey and Oracle is fascinating and too long to fully delve into here. Suffice to say, a couple of years after being part of the original “British invasion” along with the Beatles and the Stones, the five-piece from St Albans, who had been together since they were at school, had been dropped by their record company, Decca, and were reduced to playing a residency in the Philippines playing to tens of thousands of adoring fans for a mere £18 a night between them.
On returning to England they got an advance of £1,000 from CBS and used it to record the 12 songs at Abbey Road that would form a classic album. But the two singles they released in the autumn of 1967 disappeared without trace and by Christmas they had split up before the album even came out. The members of the band had all moved on to other things when, more than a year later, the album’s closing track ‘Time of the Season’ became a surprise smash hit, reaching No.1 in the Billboard charts in the USA. And, in the decade that followed, an album which had tanked began to be recognised as one of the finest of a generation – despite the embarrassing typo that gave it its name.
Let Me Sleep (It’s Christmas Time) – Pearl Jam
If you’ve ever looked out the window to a busy street fully decked out with boughs of holly and thought, “You know what? Maybe I’ll just stay in tonight,” this one’s for you. Eddie Vedder’s soothing lullaby is a stark contrast to the usual holiday cheer. I like to think of it as the comfortable, worn-in sweater of holiday music. It may not be flashy, but sometimes it’s exactly what you need.
Emotion Sickness – Queens of the Stone Age
2023’s theme (for me, anyway) was about survival, so the most apropos song I could think of was the latest by Queens Of The Stone Age, Emotion Sickness…kinda sums it all up, really…😉
Ring Out, Solstice Bells – Jethro Tull
Until I hear this song, its not officially the Christmas season. It is so happy and makes you smile and think this is what it must have been like during the medieval celebrations. It ushers in the happy times, and makes you want to celebrate. The video is a bit creepy but it’s a classic!!
I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm – STUHR Remix – Kay Starr, Stuhr
I first heard this track walking into Trader Joe’s a few holidays ago. Encountering the mesmerizing beat of I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm (Stuhr Remix) stopped me in my tracks. Trader Joe’s, for those outside of the U.S., is a quirky grocery store, where the employees dress in shorts and tees and the management wear Hawaiian shirts. More often than not, they are blasting amazing tunes, that to my kids embarrassment, I dance and sign along to.
This remix definitely had me dancing down the aisles and happily shopping away, buying more things than I needed as it put me in the holiday spirit.
While winter isn’t much of a thing here in California, this tune does make me fantasize about a snowy evening, cozied up on the couch in front of the fireplace with the family, watching the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree.
Lights On (feat. Ryan Beatty and Santigold) – Tyler, The Creator
With the holidays near, I started going back to some old Christmas songs and I stumbled on this! Pretty ironic since you can see the cover’s The Grinch…but don’t be fooled! It’s a happy song for sure! Love that it’s also a rap, since I find it so creative! All about coming home for Christmas and those colorful, pretty lights during the season 😌
Must Be Santa – Bob Dylan
It’s a great song and also the only reason I can name USA presidents (although I have to remember to mentally deselect the reindeer names in between)
Ho Ho ho – Sia
This is a time for celebration, with family and friends and we get to have fun together. My song portrays the holiday mood very well. It’s that time you can drink freely without anyone judging because we are in the holiday spirit, characterized with unity, giving and being merry. Ho Ho Ho, it don’t get better than this!
December, 1963 (Oh What a Night!) – Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
Winter Solstice is a time of “reflection, transition, and celebrating the return of light”, but frankly the only thing I’m celebrating is the latter. Winter is cold — too cold! It’s also too dark, and even though I won’t notice the days getting longer until sometime in January, solstice reminds me that the earth is tilting and the days are indeed getting longer.
“December, 1963” by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons isn’t a solstice song, but the hint of nostalgia, along with the upbeat feel-good nature of the track reflects my vibe around December 21st of every year: making the most of the holiday season, but really excited that summer is beginning to inch just a little closer every day.
- All Now – The Staves
- Northern Attitude (with Hozier) – Noah Kahan
- Valhalla – Emancipator
- Winter – Chip Wickham
- Merry Christmas, Baby – MNO Remix – Charles Brown
- A Calf Born in Winter – Khruangbin
- This Will Be Our Year – The Zombies
- Let Me Sleep (It’s Christmas Time) – Pearl Jam
- Emotion Sickness – Queens of the Stone Age
- Ring Out, Solstice Bells – 2003 Remaster – Jethro Tull
- I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm – STUHR Remix – Kay Starr
- Lights On (feat. Ryan Beatty & Santigold) – Tyler, The Creator
- Must Be Santa – Bob Dylan
- Ho Ho Ho – Sia
- December, 1963 (Oh What a Night!) – Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
Image: AI Prompt
Want more musicto playlisticles like 8 Songs to Stop Shouting? Check out our previous playlisticles: 8 Songs to Stop Shouting, 11 Great Tracks for Zombie Fest ’23, Exit Songs For Your Funeral, Songs About Hating Your Job, Groove in Green, 16 Top Cover Songs, 10 Songs to Stargaze, 6 Songs for the Future, Sounds like David Bowie, 7 Misheard Songs, Censored, 15 Great Songs for your Vampire Ball, 11 Powerful Songs in Flim, 7 Top Cowbell Songs,