Honky Tonk Christmas
Alan Jackson’s 1993 album Honky Tonk Christmas succeeds by avoiding holiday clichés. For starters there is only one traditional song here, and though “Holly Jolly Christmas” is perfectly pleasant, it is the most boring thing about the album. Rather than simply add some twang to the same old holiday songs, Jackson puts a Christmas twist on the classic country themes of breakups (“Honky Tonk Christmas”), loneliness (“If You Don’t Want To See Santa Claus Cry”), and drinking (the peppy but surprisingly dark “Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas)”). A Merle Haggard cover (“If We Make It Through December”) proves that even when he’s making a Christmas album, Jackson is country to the core. Because it is not strictly focused on the tropes of holiday music, Honky Tonk Christmas ends up being an album that works at any time of year. Even though it radiates the warmth of the holiday season, Jackson’s duet with Alison Krauss (“The Angels Cried”) is one of the most sublime ballads of either singer’s career.