Watch Samantha Harlow's Wistful 'Once a Year' Video - Rolling Stone
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Watch Samantha Harlow’s Wistful ‘Once a Year’ Video

Christmas tune features backing vocals from Anderson East

Suffice it to say, Christmas is a pretty bittersweet occasion for Samantha Harlow. The East Nashville-based singer-songwriter just released the video for her song “Once a Year” and it hits on the swirl of emotions that adults often experience around December 25th.

“The hardest part about growing up is watching your family change. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse,” says Harlow, who wrote the song during a rough patch when her career was moving slowly and her grandmother’s health was starting to fail. “There are a million things you wish you could do over and simultaneously hold on to for dear life just as they are. My parents worked their asses off to give me as normal and balanced a life as they could, something I will be forever grateful for. I never got it when I was a kid, but as an adult I understand that it tore them up as much as it did me, and still does.” 

Anderson East supplies backing vocals on the song, and the accompanying video splices footage of Harlow strumming her guitar at a table with home video from different eras. She manages to sound both grateful and sad that Christmas has arrived — thankful for the enduring comfort and love of family, but sad there are empty chairs where loved ones used to sit.

“My grandma passed before I got the chance to put this song out last year,” says Harlow. “So, we’re looking at another empty chair at the table, but thank God for the chairs that are still full. Thank God I still have family at the table to go home to.”


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