Hear Tristen’s Poignant “Crying On Christmas Day, ” A Benefit Single For Doctors Without Borders

The song considers whether some of the long-running themes of the holidays aren’t just empty platitudes.

 

Photo by Megan Fitchuk

We’ve been fans of Tristen since she released her first EP in 2009, way back in ancient history.

Since then she’s served up three full-lengths, the latest of which, Sneaker Waves, dropped earlier this year. The record addresses topics of alienation, ennui, and death in the modern digital world, rendered with her characteristic sidewinder lyrics and Beatles-esque musical flourishes.

In a feature-length piece about the album, Tristen told American Songwriter: “There is too much going on in the world right now … I want to write really intense things. More than ever, I feel we need to be writing things that are meaningful.”

Tristen has kept up the intensity — and that sense of the meaningful — on her latest single, the Yuletide offering “Crying On Christmas Day,” which she’s releasing as a benefit for Doctors Without Borders.

The song, which unfolds over quiet, fingerpicked acoustic guitar, considers whether some of the long-running themes of the holidays aren’t just empty platitudes with no basis in reality. The tune aches with melancholy, and won’t be cheering up Charlie Brown this Christmas. 

“Although the presentation changes over time, artists have been repeating the same messages over and over,” Tristen said of the Christmas songbook. “Music that distills the human experience stays infinitely relevant. This timeless art has the power to connect you to generations that came before, and to guide you through hardship. I kept thinking about the desire for ‘peace on earth’ found in so many holiday hymns. For centuries we sing these words, but can we live peacefully? We walk around with bricks on our backs, suffering, depressed, and oppressed, but at Christmas we come home, wherever that may be, to commiserate, and atheists and church-goers alike hope for an end to war and pray for love, while the snow falls, the garland hangs, and music plays in the background.”

Give the song a listen below, and be sure you visit her Bandcamp page to make a donation to Doctors Without Borders.

“Crying on Christmas Day”

from the dawn the angels cried a sacred song
passing on the sounds of love through ancient tears

once a year
the family is close
to beg for love
to sing for joy
to hope for harmony
that peace on earth is more than words

look up young one
the snow falls just same
on the place you call home
when you are suffering
and the garland is gold
and the records still play
does it feel alright crying on christmas day?

cynical and killing the only dream,
hopeless poems forgotten by wishful weeds

once a year
the family is close
to beg for love
to sing for joy
to hope for harmony
that peace on earth is more than words

look up young one
the snow falls just same (we are all the same)
on the place you call home
when you are suffering (we are suffering)
and garland is gold
and the records still play
does it feel alright
crying on christmas day?