Phoebe Bridgers has built an impressive catalogue of Christmas/Thanksgiving singles over the past handful of years. The tradition continues with the Los Angeles musician’s version of Tom Waits’ ‘Day After Tomorrow’.
Bridgers’ version is available now and all proceeds will go to the International Institute of Los Angeles’ Local Integration & Family Empowerment Division, which provides immigrant and refugee services and support for low-income workers in the city.
‘Day After Tomorrow’ originally appeared as the penultimate song on Waits’ 2004 album Real Gone. Bridgers upholds the song’s minimal arrangement and sombre tenor, deploying a guitar- and violin-flecked arrangement. She also judiciously avoids impersonating Waits’ vocals.
Bridgers doesn’t omit any of the original lyrics in her six-minute version of ‘Day After Tomorrow’. Although not a Christmas song, some of the lyrics touch on salient political matters.
“They fill us full of lies, everyone buys / ‘Bout what it means to be a soldier,” Bridgers sings, in what can be construed as a comment on the building blocks of Empire. “I still don’t know how I’m supposed to feel / ‘Bout all the blood that’s been spilled.”
It goes on, rather poignantly: “You can’t deny, the other side / Don’t want to die anymore then we do / What I’m trying to say is don’t they pray / To the same god that we do? / And tell me how does god choose? / Whose prayers does he refuse?”
A choral quotation of Silent Night, performed by the likes of Blake Mills and Marcus Mumford, occurs around the three minute and 30 second mark. The choral accompaniment returns around the five minute and 30 second mark, bringing the song to wistful crescendo.