So Much Wine is the title of Phoebe Bridgers' Christmas EP, released on November 17, 2022.
Chock full of Christmas-themed cover songs, the 6-track EP consists of:
- So Much Wine, the title track of the EP, and a cover of the same song by The Handsome Family.
- Day After Tomorrow, a piano cover of the Tom Waits song.
- If We Make It Through December, a cover of the Merle Haggard song.
- 7 O'Clock News / Silent Night, an audio experience that features Phoebe, Fiona Apple, and Matt Berninger of the National singing Silent Night in one ear and a recording of the 7 O'Clock News in the other (a slightly older track, judging by the stories). Oh, and also a cover of the Simon and Garfunkel song.
- Christmas Song, a cover of the McCarthy Trenching song.
- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (hopefully everyone should know this one).
I had this entire collection on repeat for almost 72 hours. Starting on Wednesday all the way to Friday morning, I was listening to this faithfully and passionately. I have so many thoughts about it.
So Much Wine (the song) has the most layers to it (the rest of these songs are mostly comprised solely of one or two instruments and Bridgers' voice), but it doesn't lose any of its emotion or sentimentality. There's a deep plea in the chorus:
Listen to me, butterfly / There's only so much wine / That you can drink in one life / And it will never be enough / To save you from the bottom of your glass
It has some incredible verses as well, chock-full of sad imagery and a soulful longing for change:
And as meteors dived and shot across the sky / I thought about your sad, shining eyes
It picks up a bit of energy at the end of the track, evoking imagery of driving away into the night in a small four-seater sedan.
Day After Tomorrow is the long-haul track at a jaw-dropping 6 minutes, but it is by far the most memorable lyrically. It's a poem about the longing for home a soldier faces, listing all the little things he misses:
What I miss, you won't believe / Shoveling snow and raking leaves / And my plane will touch down / On the day after tomorrow
But soon after, it becomes a treatise on the horrors of war, in a simplistic, pleading way that will touch any listener, religious or not:
Tell me how does God choose / Whose prayers does he refuse / Who turns the wheel? Who throws the dice?
You can't deny, the other side / Don't wanna die any more than we do / What I'm trying to say is, don't they pray / To the same God that we do?
The song adds some heavenly choral voices singing what seems to be an airy fragment of Silent Night, which dies away for the last few verses that bring some warm hope to the track:
I'll be twenty-one today / I've been saving all my pay / And my plane will touch down / On the day after tomorrow
The song fades away on the final, whispered fragment of Silent Night, evaporating quietly into the silence.
If We Make It Through December is lyrically nostalgic to me, reminding me of childhood evenings spent learning the lyrics of old Christmas blues tracks. It's the wham line near the end of the verse that gets me:
I don't mean to hate December / It's meant to be the happy time of year / And my little girl don't understand / Why we can't afford no Christmas here
It's genuinely a very heartwarming song of hope borne of destitution and poverty. The muted piano keys and Bridgers' soft, warm voice so intimately applied over the instrumentals keep the listener engaged; it's hard to turn away when it feels like she's singing directly to you. You have to listen; it'd be rude not to hear her soul.
At only 2:59, it's the second-shortest track here and not the most memorable, but it's very sweet and smooth, making it a pleasure to listen to.
7 O'Clock News / Silent Night (the shortest track) is almost seared too deeply into my consciousness. The juxtaposition of the soft, twangy guitar and the vocals of Bridgers, Apple, and Berninger, mixed with the garbled and distorted news report, just brings a different kind of emotion to my body. I can't put into words how sad I feel when I hear songs like this. The "Sleep in heavenly peace" sung over the news reporter duly commenting on Amber Guyger's conviction feels almost like a raw wound pulsing with pain.. Which, as a quick aside, was over 4 years ago. It's just wild how fast time passes because I remember this story like it was yesterday.
It's really, really hard to say anything about this song. It's something that I can only really recommend that you experience yourself to understand how I feel. I normally don't like audio being panned to the right or left side in songs, but the sharp and emotional contrast between both audio sources is an almost tear-inducing juxtaposition. Seriously, I recommend that, if you listen to this EP, when you get to this song, just close your eyes and let it sweep you up. It's like coffee gone cold, tea that burns just a little when you take a sip. It's warmth and comfort with a hint of pain—a splash of reality. And if you're especially intrigued, listen closely for the stories mentioned in the newscast. They were all chosen for a reason. A summation of the climate of the day.
Christmas Song has powerful suspended and augmented chords and is soulful and bluesy. The addition of Jackson Browne on the chorus adds an almost gospel-like quality to it:
You don't have to be alone to be lonesome / It's easy to forget / The sadness comes crashin' like a brick through the window / And it's Christmas so no one can fix it
I remember drawing a connection to Bon Iver
's sound while listening to this song. Especially near the end, it genuinely sounds like he joins in on the chorus, with all the voices overlaid on top of each other. It hits upon a deep sentiment that I think a lot of people need to hear, especially around this time. Forgive me for waxing philosophical
here, but Christmas to me is very much a time of self-reflection
. I think it's good for the soul to feel that deep longing every once in a while; it makes people more compassionate toward each other. And the song is certainly aware of the social effects:
Tethered to a table with that happy holiday crowd / And it's anchors aweigh / Looks like smooth sailin' / But the merest hint of waves could capsize you
Okay, finally, it's time to talk about "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." This cover blows my mind. It's coated in layers upon layers of reverbed guitar and soft synth pads that just echo out into the cosmos. Bridgers' voices seems to float on top of it all, singing verses like:
Next year all our troubles will be miles away
Her voice echoes across the country, almost like a pleading cry for love:
Someday soon we all will be together / If the fates allow / Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow / So have yourself a merry little Christmas now
I'm sorry...I'm listening to it again, and it's killing me. I cried to this a lot. It brought something out in me that I just... didn't know was there
. It was just so heartbreaking and emotional that I had to force myself to stop listening to it Thanksgiving evening because it was actively destroying me. Of course, that didn't stop me from listening to it the next morning, but I moved off of it pretty quickly; melancholy is good, but not every single day, and certainly not more than two days in a row
I think I've said what I wanted to say. In any case, I hope I've piqued your interest in this collection. Happy Holidays, friends. ♥