Track of the Day: 'White Wine in the Sun'

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

“White Wine in the Sun” isn’t a probable title for a Christmas song, but it is if you’re Australian, like the comedian/musician Tim Minchin. (Among other things, he wrote the music and lyrics for the Broadway musical Matilda.)

This song will sneak up on you—it usually manages to get me in tears in the last minute or so. For most of it, Minchin ruminates on his mixed feelings around the holidays: He’s “hardly religious,” but he likes the music. He has “all the usual objections to consumerism,” he doesn’t want big presents. “It’s sentimental, I know, but I just really like it.”

But about halfway through, “White Wine in the Sun” builds, and it becomes about Minchin spending the holidays with his family in Australia, drinking white wine in the sun, and the reliability of always knowing they’re there.

I challenge you to hold it together until the end.

“And if, my baby girl, when you’re twenty-one or thirty-one,/And Christmas comes around/And you find yourself nine thousand miles from home/You'll know what ever comes/Your brothers and sisters and me and your mum/Will be waiting for you in the sun./Whenever you come,/Your brothers and sisters, your aunts and your uncles/Your grandparents, cousins, and me and your mum/We'll be waiting for you in the sun, drinking white wine in the sun.