“Day After Tomorrow”: Phoebe Bridgers’ Annual Christmas Cover


Lindsey Pease, Staff Writer

Indie hit-maker Phoebe Bridgers returns this December with tears for Christmas. 

Every year since 2017, Bridgers has picked an eclectic holiday song to cover and release under her trademark acrylic-ghost album art.

Choices range from classics like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and Simon & Garfunkel’s “7 O’clock News / Silent Night,” to hidden gems like Merle Haggard’s “If We Make It Through December,” McCarthy Trenching’s “Christmas Song” and most recently, Tom Waits’ “Day After Tomorrow.”

Originally recorded in 2004, Tom Waits sings “Day After Tomorrow” as a soldier away at war, and the piece acts as his letter home for the holidays. He prays to God to “get me back home, on the day after tomorrow.”

Bridgers elevates Waits’ original with her own signature, melancholic drawl. She captures the soldier’s raw sorrow and the hope he holds onto despite it, singing, “I still believe that there’s gold, at the end of the world.” 

Waits created a gravelly, grieving sound on the original “Day After Tomorrow,” and while lyrically the same, Bridgers has turned the track into a song that could have come straight off of one of her own albums.

This version is gentler, swapping Waits acoustic guitar for a desperate prayer on the piano coaxed beside a choir of voices and strings. 

She hums a bit of “Silent Night” in the middle of the track, Christmastime lodged in the throat of life’s ever-churning anguish.

Proceeds from this cover will be donated to the Local Integration & Family Empowerment Division of the International Institute of Los Angeles, supporting immigrants, refugees, and survivors of human trafficking.

Bridgers always chooses covers that highlight struggle within the holidays — a reminder that December isn’t all pipe-smoking snowmen, privilege and presents under Christmas trees.

Whether tackling politics, war, poverty or simply pressing current events, each of Bridgers’ somber holiday covers remind listeners of one thing:

The world doesn’t stop turning around Christmastime.

“It’s not often that I hear a Christmas song that doesn’t make me want to quit music,” Bridgers said on McCarthy Trenching’s “Christmas Song,” her featured choice for 2018, offering insight into each year’s carefully selected track.

She released her own rendition of Simon & Garfunkel’s 1966 “7 O’clock News / Silent Night” in 2019, replacing the old newscast with headlines specific to the year. 

Bridgers is joined by Fiona Apple to harmonize “Silent Night,” the Christmas classic portion of the record, while indie-rock frontman Matt Berninger of “The National” recites recent news concerning women’s abortion rights, racial injustice, Trump’s initial impeachment, the first all-female spacewalk and the Sackler family’s blame for the opioid epidemic. Proceeds were donated to Planned Parenthood. 

“The result rather bluntly makes an ironic commentary on various social ills by juxtaposing them with tenderly expressed Christmas sentiments,” Paul Simon said regarding the original track, and there is no better way to describe Phoebe Bridgers’ annual Christmas covers.

In 2020, Bridgers compiled three of her past Christmas covers into an EP named for and featuring Merle Haggard’s “If We Make It Through December.” The proceeds from this EP were donated to the Los Angeles’ Downtown Women’s Center.