In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, we’re picking our favorite Christmas songs about mind-altering substances.
Christmas songs are generally simple, and “Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas)”—made famous by John Denver in the mid-’70s—follows (Santa) suit. On the other hand, most Christmas songs are about Jesus or Santa or general good cheer, whereas this one is a plea—right there in the title—for Daddy to stay sober, just this once. (“I don’t wanna see my mama cry,” goes the lyric, but he does see her cry, damn it.) The song has been covered so many times that its provenance is frequently mistaken: It wasn’t actually written by Denver, and it certainly wasn’t written by Alan Jackson, who sometimes gets credit. It was actually penned by Bill Danoff of Starland Vocal Band—famous for “Afternoon Delight”—and his wife, Taffy Nivert. Last year, Mike Mills of R.E.M. and Joseph Arthur and Bill Dobrow did a version for The A.V. Club, and several years before that, The Decemberists turned in a version for a throwaway compilation called, bluntly, Alternative Rock Xmas. Let’s go with their version below, and count our blessings this holiday season that even if Santa doesn’t bring everything we ask for, at least Daddy won’t be falling down under the Christmas tree. For most of us, anyway.