We like our Christmas Nukebox selection to be fairly bleak, and Aimee Mann’s entry is up there with Do They Know It’s Christmas? in the sadness stakes.
The song comes from the concept album Forgotten Arm, in which Mann tells the story of John and Caroline’s increasingly fraught relationship. John’s alcoholism drives a wedge between the two, and I Was Thinking I Could Clean Up For Christmas is the penultimate song and deals with the struggle to stay sober.
But the meaning here is more universal: when Mann sings ‘I can’t live loaded and I can’t live sober’, we understand that it’s all of our Christmases she’s talking about.