361: Another Lonely Christmas

I Would Die 4 U single (1984) / The Hits/The B Sides (1993)
This b-side is the only Christmas song Prince released although (barring the final few seconds on the extended mix) it certainly doesn’t sound festive. The sleigh bells on Come surprisingly make that R-rated cunnilingus ode a much better contender for a holiday mixtape than this drunken tearjerker. It unfolds darkly and much like The Pogues’ New York its wind goes right through you, it’s no place for the old. The increasingly out-of-control narrator may not have spent Christmas Eve in the drunk tank but we’re told Christmas Day was spent drinking “banana daiquiris till I’m blind”, as he has done every December 25th since his girlfriend died seven years ago. Cause of death: “your father said it was pneumonia, your mother said it was strep.” Winter Wonderland it definitely is not. What it is though is classic Prince storytelling, with the muffled screams of the guitars downwardly spiralling, perfectly mirroring the singer’s deteriorating state. Head to the extended mix to hear the superb lyricism in all its unedited, reverb-drenched glory with lines such as “I’d pay money just 2 see your laughin’ dancin’ silhouette upon the pier.” Boxing Day, when this song takes place, is often used to contrast with Christmas Day cheer. It’s the day George Michael had his heart given away and the day of Elvis Costello’s St Stephen’s Day Murders. Even Good King Wenceslas is full of cruel frost, freezing blood and winter’s rage. This is the soundtrack to that post-Christmas comedown. A day when the tinsel loses its glitter and you’re left hungover with a wilting, dead pine in your living room and the deferred sense of existential ennui returns. Merry Christmas!