For most, the concept of Christmas is – for better or worse – inextricable from the concept of home. Whether you’re a child, celebrating under your family’s tree and confused about why your parents aren’t looking at each other, or a college student, boarding a plane with a bittersweet heart after a trying semester, or a full-grown adult trying gamely to provide something like “home” for your own children and their Christmastime enjoyment, these two things may as well be bound together by your very heartstrings.
While “Home” is not directly about Christmas, the closer to Low’s 1999 opus “Secret Name” is almost more relevant to the confused feelings of the holiday season than the band’s rendition of “Little Drummer Boy,” or any of the classic carols on their “Christmas EP.” The twinkly guitar melody taunts like a baby’s mobile, calling up the simple beauty of fresh snowfall on Christmas morn. Simultaneously, the evil bass thrum that runs through the song (which I like to think of as a relic of producer Steve Albini’s disturbed psyche) belies the hidden horror of the holidays (liquor, depression, SAD lights). Alan Sparhawk croons the song’s lone quatrain over and over, “Home / Everybody wants to go home / Even when they’re old / Even when they’re small,” and his just-slightly-off harmonizing at the song’s end perfectly embodies the queasiness of knowing that Santa is a lie but still telling your kids otherwise.