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MurphGuide’s Top Ten Favorite Christmas Songs

[note: re-publishing this post first published in 2011]

Dear readers:
Merry Christmas. I hope you have a safe and happy holiday with family and friends.  And if you don’t celebrate, have a happy Sunday.

Here are some of my favorite Christmas tunes I thought I would share.  Feel free to let me know some of your favorites by posting in the comments section below.
Cheers, Murph.

Driving Home for Christmas – Chris Rea

This song is for anyone who has ever been stuck in traffic during the Christmas rush. Take solace in the fact that most other drivers are in the same situation as you. British singer-songwriter Chris Rea originally recorded it in 1988. He re-released in 2007 and it became a hit in the UK. I first hear it that year at a Christmas party at The Gael Pub, and it stayed with me.


At Christmas Time – The Itinerants

Pat RobinsonI first heard this song when songwriter Pat Robinson of The Itinerants played it solo acoustic for a small group of friends, in an apartment of our mutual friends, Jimmy & Carol Ann.  I am not sure if it was before or after he recorded it, but you can listen and download the recording here:
soundcloud.com/itinerant/at-christmas-time-122015


Christmas Time for The Jews – SNL

Written by Robert Smigel with vocals by Darlene Love, this Spector-esque song first appeared on Saturday Night Live in 2005 (Season 31).  As any New Yorker knows, Christmas is a unique time for Jewish New Yorkers.


Christmas in Carrick – The Clancy Brothers Christmas (1969)

The Clancy Brothers are a classic Irish folk group, and their Christmas album was a staple in the Murph household growing up. This lively song describes the festivities of a particular Christmas in Carrick, Ireland. Their excuse to live it up: “Christmas comes but once a year”.  Who can argue with that?
Honorable mention: I almost chose another song from this same album, “When Joseph Was an Old Man” which humorously tells the story of how Joseph found out that Mary was with child.  Listen to it here.


New York Christmas – Rob Thomas

Matchbox 20‘s lead singer Rob Thomas recorded this song in 2003. The video above is from the 2009 Rockefeller Center tree lighting. The sidewalk angels in the song is a reference to the Sidewalk Angels Foundation that Thomas and his wife Marisol founded.


Do They Know It’s Christmas – Band Aid

Band Aid was collection of British and Irish pop stars (and Bono) that formed a one-time only charity supergroup.  Formed in 1984 by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, it raised millions for famine relief in Ethiopia.
I remember where I was when I first hear this song (listening on WNEW-FM as a student at Manhattan College).  I was moved then, and I still get emotional when I hear it today.  Only now the emotion is more cynicism, as hunger is still a problem in too many parts of the world. Although their idealism may seem quaint by today’s standards, it was quite a revolutionary charitable endeavor at the time.
Just please don’t play the Glee version.  They ruin every song I hear them sing.


Happy Christmas (War is Over) – John Lennon & Yoko Ono

Though released over forty-four years ago in 1971, it remains relevant today, as American troops return home to their families after serving in the middle east. War is over (if you want it). As far as happy new year goes, Yes! Let’s hope it’s a good one (without any fear).


Amsterdam Mistress – Joe Hurley & Rogues March

Joe Hurley singing “Amsterdam Mistress” at Joe’s Pub

Legend has it our friend Joe Hurley scrawled some of the lyrics to this song on a bar napkin. Joe explains: “written on Christmas Eve in Downtown Beirut (the bar, not the city) just a short crawl from Milano’s & the ‘pints of Guinness’ & ‘lots of slow kisses ‘ of the night before: our last. When you know the ocean is about to break your heart, you can curse the sea, or hold each other tight, and embrace whats left of the twinkling lights. Love deeply, Sing madly . Goodbyes are so much harder than goodnights.”
The song, produced by Jimmy Harry, first appeared on Rogues March‘s debut CD ‘Never Fear’. Sony Music later included the song in a compilation: “Whiskey In The Jar: Essential Irish Drinking Songs and Singalongs” alongside classics from the Clancy Brothers, the Dubliners, The Chieftains, and The Pogues.
The song is available for download at joehurley.bandcamp.com/track/amsterdam-mistress or go to Joe Hurley’s page on facebook, click “Music Store” & go to ‘Never Fear’.


Christmas in New York – Shilelagh Law

Written in the emotional cauldron of NYC after Sept. 11, 2001, Shilelagh Law‘s singer Richard Popovic pays homage to all those that answered the call that day, and afterwards.  “Bless those that gave some and those that gave all”.  It is a healing song as he then reminds everybody that life goes on, and it’s Christmas in New York again.


Fairytale of New York – The Pogues

The Pogues classic 1987 Christmas song features vocals by the late Kirsty MacColl.  It is not often that a Christmas song starts off “in the drunk tank”. Look for actor Matt Dillon as a cop in the opening scene of the video.

There you have it, Merry New York Christmas!

What are some of your favorites Christmas songs?  Feel free to share in the comments below. Merry Christmas.

One Response to “MurphGuide’s Top Ten Favorite Christmas Songs”


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