At this point in my life, I am 99 and 44/100 percent sure that I will never again be in a romantic relationship. I know that stranger things have happened, but when I state this, I am not being a cynic, but a realist.
My last one ended in August 2013. Making it even worse is that, right up until the last day we were together, she said she still loved me. But she simply couldn’t live with me anymore. She had spent years chasing me before I finally came around, and then, after we’d spent three years together, she decided she was better off without me after all.
If she’d had her way, our relationship would have ended even sooner – on December 8, 2012, to be exact. Somehow, I used my feeble powers of persuasion not to end things that day. The thought of breaking up right before Christmas, yet deciding to stick it out at least through the holiday season, brought to mind the song I’ve chosen as my Christmas Song of the Day for December 30.
I first heard of Brandi Carlile in 2007, when I heard her amazing recording of “The Story” from her album of the same name. I don’t remember if I first heard it on the radio or elsewhere, but my goodness, that song has stuck with me ever since. If I’m in the right (or wrong) mood, “The Story” will make me cry like a baby, because it hits too close to home.
For Christmas in 2007, as was often the case when I lived in Wisconsin, I spent the immediate holiday season at my mother’s house in suburban Minneapolis. In those days, Cities 97, which used to be a great radio station by commercial FM standards, aired a program it called The 24 Hours of Christmas from 6 p.m. Christmas Eve to 6 p.m. Christmas Day. It was diverse and unique, and many songs that have stuck with me over the past decade or so were ones I first heard during those hours. I’d have the radio on as I fell asleep, and I’d have a piece of paper and writing utensil nearby; any time I heard a song new to me that I liked, I’d jot down enough lyrics to try to google them the next time I had the chance.
One song I heard in 2007 was a beautiful, cello-and-piano-driven ballad with a lyric that sounded like “silver bells and open fires,” which was about all I managed to make out in my groggy state. The day after Christmas, I went to the local public library with my list of scrawled lyrics, and I found the song in question.
Carlile had released it as a digital download roughly three days before Christmas that year, and it somehow ended up on Cities 97 that quickly! As I basically stay away from music that is not available on physical media, I didn’t grab it for the collection. Fortunately, the next year (2008), Carlile’s song was released on CD as part of a benefit Christmas collection called The Hotel Cafe Presents Winter Songs, an assortment of seasonal songs all performed by women. I think it’s still the only hard-copy source for today’s song.
Carlile sings of a relationship that is deteriorating, but she wants to delay the inevitable in hopes that they can at least have one more memorable Christmas together before the inevitable breakup. As the title of the song eloquently puts it, “The Heartache Can Wait.”