Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch”series, Holiday Edition where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music and musicians from the 60’s to today. Enjoy the trip!

It’s Christmas time, but we all know you can only play so much Bing Crosby and Mariah Carey before you’ll go mad. Thankfully, there are plenty of rocking Christmas gems out there that tend to fall under the radar.

Many rock icons have tried their hand at Christmastime staples, with mixed results. (Sometimes it is better to leave things to Crosby and the other classic crooners, after all.) But from Chuck Berry and Bob Dylan to Bruce Springsteen, guitar gods have successfully livened up the otherwise straight-laced proceedings, or at least given the tunes more personality. Meanwhile, other rockers have just gotten, well, a little weird with things, whether it’s peak Weird Al taking the piss, the Pretenders getting new wave, or Fall Out Boy shutting down any chance of mistletoe romance. All around, they prove that with the right imagination, you can inject a harder-rocking spirit into Christmas music—mall holiday playlists be damned.

The perfect holiday playlist shouldn’t all be upbeat or focused on love. You’ve got to make sure there’s songs for everyone, including those of us who are just plain Grinches about the whole holiday season. The perfect Christmas has some highs and lows, and a little bit in between.

There’s something about the Boss’s humble Americana that just suits Christmas. He has an amiable dude-celebrating-at-the-dive bar energy in this live cut, with the typically boisterous E Street Band matching him every step of the way.

Psychedelic Lunch

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Bruce Springsteen: Nebraska

On 1982’s Nebraska, Bruce Springsteen produced a bleak song cycle populated by characters on the fringes of society; killers, outcasts, and police officers with criminal relatives.

Springsteen turned what was originally intended as demos for the next E Street Band collaboration into a stand alone masterpiece.

Nebraska works so well because it has atmosphere and ambience to spare, a huge contrast from the Boss’s usual wall of sound trademark style with the E Streeters. Featuring primarily just his voice and acoustic guitars, Nebraska is Springsteen at his confessional best.

I really love the title song, along with State Trooper, Atlantic City, My Father’s House, Highway Patrolman, Johnny 99, Reason To Believe, and Mansion On The Hill.

This is raw, haunting, nighttime music, or maybe a roadtrip through the desert. Whatever it is, it is brilliant work from a rock icon.

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind