HomeEntertainmentMusicCountry Music[Watch] Cody Johnson’s Acoustic Cover of Merle Haggard’s ‘If We Make It Through December’

[Watch] Cody Johnson’s Acoustic Cover of Merle Haggard’s ‘If We Make It Through December’

by Jim Casey
(Photo by Terry Wyatt/WireImage)

The late, great Merle Haggard wrote and recorded “If We Make It Through December” for his 1973 holiday album, Merle Haggard’s Christmas Present. After its release in October 1973, “If We Make It Through December” hit the top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart on December 22. The tune stayed at No. 1 for four weeks.

In addition, the single was so popular—not only as a Christmas tune, but also as a song of socioeconomic importance—that Merle made it the title track to his 1974 album, If We Make It Though December. Since then, a number of country stars, including Alan Jackson, Marty Robbins, and Cody Johnson, have covered the yuletide classic.

A December to Remember

Cody Johnson released his first holiday album, A Cody Johnson Christmas, in November 2021. The 10-song record featured original tunes like “Hat Made of Mistletoe” and “Christmas All Year Long.” There were also classics like Willie Nelson’s “Pretty Paper” and José Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad.” Of course, Merle’s “If We Make It Through December ” was also included.

Merle’s holiday classic was one song Cody knew had to be on the holiday album. As Cody told Outsider last year, “If We Make It Thought December” was part of a “Thank God Christmas moment” he shared with his newlywed wife, Brandi, in 2010.

‘”If We Make It Through December’ was a special song because in 2010, when we got married, Brandi and I . . . I didn’t realize that I’d done this, but I’d given our last $20 in a Christmas card to a relative,” says Cody to Outsider. “On the way home, I asked her what was wrong. And she said, ‘That was our last $20.’ And I was like, ‘Well, we can go by the bank.’ And she said, ‘No, I wasn’t going to say anything, but we’re overdrawn and we’ve got bills that are due.’ We were very young and didn’t really have a pot to pee in. And, ‘If We Make It Through December’ came on the radio and we both cried and didn’t say a word.”

Cody Johnson Goes Acoustic

“We got home, and I checked the mailbox for some reason,” continued Cody. “My first two checks from [performance rights organization] ASCAP had come in, and they were about $2,500 a piece. And it was just a ‘Thank God’ Christmas moment. So I had to record that, it was just such a wonderful story behind it.”

In addition to the studio recording of the song, Cody recently released a live acoustic version. Check it out below.