Certain Songs #1081: Low – “Just Like Christmas”

Album: Christmas
Year: 1999

I love this song so much, I almost wrote it back in September when I was doing all of the other Low songs, but figured I’d save it for Christmas Eve instead. So here we are.

And while the lyrics suggest it might not be a Christmas song (the actual time of year is left vague), there is absolutely no doubt that it’s just a like a Christmas song, especially because it’s the lead track on a record called “Christmas.”

Featuring a jaunty “boomp-ba-doomp” bassline, a fuzzy, foggy organ and a beat chock full of sleigh bells, wooden blocks and huge echoing tom fills, “Just Like Christmas” would be nearly a classic even if Mimi Parker didn’t sing a note.

But of course she does, discussing a Norwegian tour that she and Alan Sparhawk had taken.

On our way from Stockholm
It started to snow
And you said it was like Christmas
But you were wrong
It wasn’t like Christmas at all

There isn’t any kind of “you idiot, you’re so wrong” tone in her vocals, more of a matter-of-fact reminder that snow doesn’t automatically equal Christmas, probably especially for folks from Minnesota, where it can get too cold to snow.

By the time we got to Oslo
The snow was gone
And we got lost
The beds were small
But we felt so young

It was just like Christmas
It was just like Christmas

This all makes perfect sense to me: I’ve only ever experienced the platonic “white Christmas” ideal once in my entire life, and that was a when I was a little kid. I wasn’t that big of a fan of the whole thing, honestly. Turns out that snow is cold and wet. Who knew?

Anyways, the rest of the song is Parker repeating “It was just like Christmas” over and over again against her overdubbed backing vocals, the out-of-focus organ, the huge drum fills and even some acoustic guitar strums from Sparhawk.

“Just Like Christmas” doesn’t so much begin or end as slowly drive by you, spreading … well, not entirely good cheer, more like melancholic cheer. Which, to me, is the perfectly lovely thing for a song that is just like a Christmas song to do. After that, it drives off into the night, taillights fading into the fog. And isn’t that just like Christmas.

“Just Like Christmas”

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2 Responses to “Certain Songs #1081: Low – “Just Like Christmas””

  1. Ira Brooker says:

    It is currently both Christmas and too cold to snow here in Minnesota. Peace be with you.