The Band’s “Christmas Must Be Tonight” has always stood apart from the standard Christmas songs playing on the radio and in stores around this time of year. The song feels very loose and raw, a sharp contrast to the typical seasonal fare. It’s also completely free of sleigh bells or gimmicks, instead driven by all the same musical elements found in most of The Band’s best songs. Claiming “Christmas Must Be Tonight” as your favorite Christmas song is like claiming Die Hard as your favorite Christmas movie: yes, it’s technically Christmas-related, but really it’s just a great standalone product.
Despite being a great song, Christmas or otherwise, it doesn’t get a lot of covers love. Luckily, Amy Helm, daughter of The Band drummer-singer Levon Helm, has taken it on this year for Spotify. In partnership with folk outfit The Wood Brothers, she perfectly captures that same lightness of the original. The interplay of Helms voice with the twangier Chris and Oliver Wood’s is excellent, and the organ solo midway through seals this song as a great cover that just happens to be Christmas-adjacent. It’s one of the few Christmas songs you could get away with playing year-round, and with this cover you might be tempted to.
If you want to hear a couple other great covers of “Christmas Must Be Tonight” click here, or find more covers of The Band here. If you’d like to hear more from Amy Helm click here, and find the Wood Brothers here.