Christmas at Denny’s

This song will not make you laugh.

It is a Christmas song that has meant a lot to me for many years. And it is perhaps the saddest Christmas song I have ever heard.

It will not cheer you up. It will not be the joyous soundtrack to your festive evening of tree trimming or egg nog drinking. It will not be a song the carolers will sing when they stop by, their faces pink and smiling. Your local radio station that has been playing all your holiday favorites since the week before Thanksgiving will never play this song.

There is a chance that you won’t want to hear it ever again. But ’tis the season for taking chances, no?

Give it a listen. Just this once. It moves me. And it might move you as well . . .

[Update: November 28, 2011 – The link below will open this song in Spotify, my current player of choice.  I cannot find this song as it was originally recorded anywhere on YouTube, and the old Grooveshark widget no longer appears to be working, so I took it down.  Maybe one day, I’ll just buy the audio upgrade and put this song up myself.  For now, this will have to suffice.  Sorry for all the hoops . . . ]

Randy Stonehill – Christmas At Denny’s

They got Christmas Muzak piped in through the ceiling
And the refills of coffee are always for free
And the waitress on graveyard and the surly night manager
They’re wishing that all of us losers would leave

There’s a star on the sign at the Texaco station
Like the star long ago on that midnight clear
As I look all around at these cold, empty faces
I doubt that you’d find many wise men here

And I’m dreaming about
A Silent Night – Holy Night
When things were alright
And I’m dreaming about
How my life could have been
If only, if only, if only
But somewhere down the road
I gave up that fight
Merry Christmas
It’s Christmas at Denny’s tonight

Once I had a home and a wife and a daughter
Had a company job earning middle-class pay
Then Lisa got killed by a car near the schoolyard
And my wife started drinking just to get through each day

I will never forget that little red wagon
Turning to rust all alone in the rain
One morning I flagged down a truck on the highway
I just couldn’t bear to go back there again

And I’m dreaming about
A Silent Night – Holy Night
When things were alright
And I’m dreaming about
How my life could have been
If only, if only, if only
Well, it’s not just the blind man
Who loses his sight
Merry Christmas
It’s Christmas at Denny’s tonight

They say
Life’s made of cruel circumstance
Fate plays the tune and we dance
Dance ’til we drop
In the dust and we’re gone
And the world just goes on

The cop at the counter he’s the guardian angel
He watches these orphans through dark-mirrored shades
And the register rings like a bell sadly tolling
For the fools we’ve become and the price that we paid

Oh, when I was a boy I believed in Christmas
Miracle season to make a new start
I don’t need no miracle sweet baby Jesus
Just help me find some kind of hope in my heart

And I’m dreaming about
A Silent Night – Holy Night
When things were alright
And I’m dreaming about
How my life could have been
If only, if only, if only
But I’ll still be here
At the morning’s first light
Merry Christmas
It’s Christmas at Denny’s tonight
Merry Christmas
It’s Christmas at Denny’s tonight

Written By Randy Stonehill
© 1989 Stonehillian Music/Word Music
(a division of Word, Inc.)/ASCAP

[Flickr photo is by elfon and is protected]

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11 thoughts on “Christmas at Denny’s

  1. Dude … I stopped about halfway through. I wrestle enough with depression on my own, I don’t need this kind of melody to help it along. Maybe in the spring I’ll give it another shot. Maybe.

  2. That is my kind of Christmas song. I can’t stand the classics, prefer ones like “Fairytale of New York” or “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis”. They get the real feeling of the season, as does this one.

  3. This is totally my style. Have you ever listened to Richard Shindell? There’s a song of his called Transit that bears a similar style and moves me deeply.

  4. This song is so sad and yet so beautiful. Last night I had my husband stop so I could hand a man standing on the highway on ramp the last 5 dollar bill in my wallet knowing no matter what his circumstances he needed it more than we did. Everyone wants to say that the people asking for change and rides are there because they deserve to be but I tend to believe that everyone’s life is hard but no one deserves to be in the gutter begging.
    Thanks for sharing Brian.

  5. Yep, it’s the darkest time of the year. Easy to be sad. It’s only my kids that keep me from turning into a hermit scrooge. They’re my gift.

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