A Spaceman Came Travelling

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"A Spaceman Came Travelling"
A Spaceman Came Travelling.jpg
Single by Chris de Burgh
from the album Spanish Train and Other Stories
Released 1976 (1976)
Format Vinyl
Genre Rock, Christmas, art rock
Length 5:10
Label A&M
Songwriter(s) Chris de Burgh
Producer(s) Robin Geoffrey Cable
Chris de Burgh singles chronology
"Turning Around"
"A Spaceman Came Travelling"
"Just Another Poor Boy"
"Turning Around"
"A Spaceman Came Travelling"
"Just Another Poor Boy"

"A Spaceman Came Travelling" is a song by Chris de Burgh. It first appeared on his second studio album, Spanish Train and Other Stories, which was released in 1975. It has been released numerous times as a single, becoming a popular Christmas song, and has appeared on many festive compilation albums.

Single release[edit]

The song was not an initial success in the UK and failed to chart. After its first release in 1976 it reached the top position of the Irish single charts staying 15 weeks in the Irish charts[1] and climbed to number 22 in the Canadian airplay charts.[2] However, in 1986, following de Burgh's huge success with "The Lady in Red", its reissue reached number 15 in Ireland charting for only 1 week. The song was also issued as a double A-side with the song "The Ballroom of Romance" and charted for the first time in the UK in 1986, reaching number 40 and staying on the chart for five weeks.[3] It was also released as a single in the Netherlands in 1985.[citation needed]

Song history[edit]

De Burgh, who had just signed his first recording contract with A&M Records, was broke and "staying at a friend's flat" when he read Chariots of the Gods? by Erich von Däniken. The book made him think "what if the star of Bethlehem was a space craft and what if there is a benevolent being or entity in the universe keeping an eye on the world and our foolish things that we do to each other?" A fan of Irish poet William Butler Yeats, whose work "The Second Coming" avers that every 2,000 years or so there would be a major cataclysmic event happening, de Burgh saw the birth of Christ as "such an event and then 2,000 years later there would be a similar" one. He imagined "the nativity scene, the thing hovering over and I could see the shepherds in the fields and this weird, ethereal music was drifting into the air and they were 'what the heck is that'?" But he "had no ideas about trying to write a hit record." The song failed to chart when it was first released as a single, but De Burgh says it's been "much better to have a regular recurring song than a hit for three weeks." [4]

1986 version[edit]

Following the success of The Lady in Red, a reworked version of the song was released as a single for Christmas 1986, backed with a remixed version of The Ballroom of Romance.[5] This version features a re-recorded vocal track (highlighting de Burgh's improved voice, thus matching the style of his 1980s work) overlaid with a remix of the original backing, and has a slightly different rendition of the final chorus. This version was subsequently included on the compilation albums Spark to a Flame, Notes from Planet Earth and Now And Then, on all of which it is incorrectly listed with a publishing date of 1989.

Cover versions[edit]

  • Austrian band Eela Craig covered the song on Hats of Glass in 1976.
  • Taiwanese singer Chyi Chin released "直到世界末日" (Until the end of the world) on his 1994 album 邊界.
  • Another Taiwanese singer, Samuel Tai, covered the song in English on his album Looking for a word to replace.[6]
  • English rock band Smokie released a cover of the song on Light a Candle – The Christmas Album in 1996.
  • Icelandic singer Paul Oscar and harpist Monika Abendroth covered the song on their 2003 Christmas album Ljósin Heima (Lights at home).[7]
  • Polish dance singer Mandaryna released her version of the song on her 2005 album Mandarynkowy sen and as a Christmas radio single.
  • Gregorian released a cover of the song on their Christmas Chants album in 2006.
  • Celtic Woman released the song as a bonus track on the German release of their 2010 album Songs from the Heart. It also featured on their 2011 DVD, Believe, performed by Lisa Lambe, as well as the soundtrack released in 2012.
  • An abridged version of the song was performed near the end of the Mrs Brown's Boys 2012 Christmas special.
  • L.A. based, UK-born producer and DJ Akira The Don recorded a version of the song for his 2016 Christmas E.P., Litmas[8].

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". Irishcharts.ie. Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  2. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  3. ^ David Roberts. British Hit Singles & Albums. Guinness World Records Limited
  4. ^ "The stories of the Christmas hits" by Liam Allen, BBC News, December 25, 2010.
  5. ^ https://www.discogs.com/Chris-De-Burgh-A-Spaceman-Came-Travelling-New-Version/master/382239
  6. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQAFyaBOLzs
  7. ^ "Ljósin heima – Páll Óskar og Monika Abendroth". Tónlist (in Icelandic). Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2011-12-12. 
  8. ^ "Litmas". Akira The Don. Retrieved 2016-12-11. 

External links[edit]