Phoebe Bridgers drops a holiday cover of ‘So Much Wine’

Singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers continued her slew of somber Christmas carols on Thursday by releasing a cover of The Handsome Family’s 2000 song “So Much Wine.”

Each holiday season since 2017, when Bridgers released a cover of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, the LA-based artist has shared her take on a Christmas classic. This year, proceeds go to the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

Bridgers’ melancholic, acoustic or stripped-down covers act as a kind of counter-programming, stomping against the blizzard of upbeat, maximalist Christmas music that fills malls and commercials throughout the holiday season.

Bridgers anchors the “So Much Wine” cover with her signature folksy acoustic guitar. Her vulnerable, empathetic vocals match the sad lyrics of the song, written by The Handsome Family’s Rennie Sparks, in which the narrator laments a loved one’s struggle with alcohol addiction.

“I had nothing to say on Christmas Day / When you threw all your clothes in the snow,” the song begins.

Then, in the song’s chorus and emotional climax—swelling with harmonies, with fiddle riffing and percussion thumping—Bridgers offers an impassioned plea: “Listen to me butterfly / There’s only so much wine / That you can drink in a lifetime.” / But it will never be enough / To save you from the bottom of your glass.”

The track features backup vocals from Bridgers’ friend, Normal People actor Paul Mescal. With additional vocals, violin and whistling, the singer features multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird, who also played violin on The Handsome Family’s 2000 album In the Air, which includes the original So Much Wine.

The music of The Handsome Family has been described as gothic country tinged with macabre storytelling. Sparks, one half of the couple, described her music to NPR in 2016 as “catharsis” and “a safe place to experience really frightening things.”

Bridgers’ music seems to flow seamlessly from such meditations on the grim. She told the Times earlier this year that she’s “learned that it can be fun in the dark,” describing the Día de los Muertos-inspired skeleton jumpsuits she often dons on stage.

In recent years, as Bridgers began donating proceeds from their annual holiday publications to various charities, their covers have become more terse and politically charged.

In 2019, she, Fiona Apple and Matt Berninger released a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s 1966 song 7 O’Clock News/Silent Night. Bridgers sings the Christmas anthem over news radio programs covering various current events, such as legal opposition to access to abortion, the opioid epidemic and the murder of Botham Jean, a black man who was shot by a white man in his own home, starting with Patrol Officer Amber Guyger the Dallas Police Department.

“Happy Holidays to anyone whose family has been literally or figuratively torn apart by Donald Trump,” Bridgers wrote on Facebook to promote the song. “And to my racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, hypocritical family members, f— you.”

Proceeds from this year’s track went to Planned Parenthood.

Last year, Bridgers covered Tom Waits’ “Day After Tomorrow,” a song told from the perspective of a soldier returning from the war struggling to have killed people for his country. Proceeds benefited the Local Integration & Family Empowerment Division of the International Institute of Los Angeles, which supports immigrants, refugees and low-income workers in the city.

The organization at the center of this holiday publication, the LA LGBT Center, is a nonprofit organization that supports people each month with services including medical care, senior services, youth housing for the homeless, and legal advice, and is one of the few federally qualified health services centers with providers who specialize in primary care for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender non-conforming people and people living with HIV. Phoebe Bridgers drops a holiday cover of ‘So Much Wine’

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