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Sarah McLachlan Taps Into Melancholy Side Of Christmas

Of the Oakland Press

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Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan didn’t want her new “Wintersong” to be a “typical” Christmas album.

The set does include holiday standards such as “Silent Night” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” But it also features covers of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” Joni Mitchell’s “River,” Gordon Lightfoot’s “Song for a Winter’s Night” and “Christmas Time Is Here” from “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” which was recorded with Diana Krall.

“I wanted to pick songs that refl ected the season for me,” explains McLachlan, whose mother died from cancer a week before the holiday in 2002. “I feel an awful lot of nostalgia and melancholy around Christmas, so it brings up feelings of sadness and loss, as well as joy. I wanted (the album) to evoke that sadness and contemplative nature.”

With the title track, however, McLachlan says that she wanted to achieve some sort of emotional balance to that dour perspective.

“There’s a lot of really hard times, and that can sort of overshadow your memories of happy times,” she explains. “But I thought, ‘No, you’ve got to really focus on remembering (people) when they were feeling good.’ It’s really important for me, anyway, so that’s what the song emulates.”

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