Song by Australian singer/songwriter/deadset legend Paul Kelly, first released 1996.
Paul Kelly doesn't write hits. He writes classics. By the turn of the century How to make gravy was already considered a traditional Christmas song in Australia. In this country of Christmas heatwaves, Christmas bushfires and Christmas cyclones people are a little uncomfortable both with the snowy wonderlands and the unrelenting cheerfulness of Northern carols. Kelly's unmistakeably Australian voice and his almost-country guitar are a welcome change of pace on any Christmas radio station.
It isn't just the voice, though. How to make gravy is an epistolary tale of regret and redemption that tugs at even the hardest of heartstrings, and incidentally includes a handy recipe.
The very best songs don't approach a subject head on. They look at a subject sideways, through the lens of one person's perspective. The Beatles didn't say "I love you", they said they want to hold your hand. Sinead O'Connor didn't say she felt sad, she said that it's been seven hours and fifteen days. So it is with this song.
This is the story of Joe, writing to his brother Dan from prison on the 21st of December. He's thinking about all the things he's missing this Christmas. His wife, his kids, his Mum, his family. The heat and the fun and the love.
But one thing is playing on his mind more than anything else. Who's going to make the gravy?
If you like your Christmas songs real and raw - or cooked up with just a dollop of tomato sauce for sweetness and that extra tang - you can't go past this one.
Pass the tissues, I'm listening to it one more time. Merry Christmas!