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So the calculation The Crows’ melancholic, much-loved 1996 classic “A Long December” Christmas song. The band’s frontman Adam Duritz has some thoughts.

“There’s this big discussion that’s going on,” he says on a new episode of our Rolling Stone Music Now podcast. (To listen to the entire episode, click play above or listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify Die hard Christmas movie? It takes place at Christmas time. And if it’s a Christmas movie to you, it’s a Christmas movie. My friend claims that Wide closed eyes too, and I think no, it isn’t. That’s not my Christmas feeling. There are movies that are Christmas movies and there are movies that take place at the end of December. But Long December, however, fits my feelings of songs that charm and resonate with this particular time of year. It’s happy in a bittersweet way, in much the same way that ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ was in the original lyrics before Sinatra changed them.”

Duritz says “Long December” is very similar to another bittersweet, piano-based unofficial Christmas carol, Joni Mitchell’s 1971 classic “River.” “I think it’s a lot like The Long December,” he says. “The word, for example, is “difficult. Some of these things that I’m going through are tough, and I wish I had a river that I could sail on… There’s trouble in this life, and I deal with it.”

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In a special holiday episode of Rolling Stone Music Now, Duritz delves deeper than ever into the writing and recording of The Long December (yes, there was a hospital in the winter, as well as a place called Hillside Manor), while also: revealing his favorite holiday songs (“I’m Jewish, but I love Christmas”), offering new insights into the making of his band’s first albums, and explaining why, contrary to rumors, he doesn’t (usually) punish bad audiences; keeps “Mr. Jones.” (Critic Stephen Hayden crystallized the “Long December” holiday song debate last year.)

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