Driving Home for Christmas

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"Driving Home for Christmas"
Chris Rea - Driving Home for Christmas Cover.jpg
Single by Chris Rea
from the album New Light Through Old Windows
Released10 December 1988
Recorded1986
GenrePop rock, Christmas
Length4:33
LabelMagnet
Songwriter(s)Chris Rea
Producer(s)Chris Rea, Stuart Eales
Chris Rea singles chronology
"Fool (If You Think It's Over) ('88 Remix)"
(1988)
"Driving Home for Christmas"
(1988)
"Working on It"
(1989)
Music video
"Driving Home For Christmas (2009 video in aid of Shelter)" on YouTube

"Driving Home for Christmas" is a Christmas song written and composed by British singer-songwriter Chris Rea.[1] The first version was originally released as the b-side to his single "Hello Friend" in 1986. In October 1988, a re-recorded version served as one of two new songs on Rea's first compilation album New Light Through Old Windows. It was issued as the fourth single from the album in December 1988, where it peaked at number 53 on the UK Singles Chart as the lead track of The Christmas EP.[2][3]

Despite its original modest chart placement, the song has made a reappearance on the UK Singles Chart every year since 2007 when it peaked at No. 33,[4] and is featured among the Top 10 Christmas singles.[5][6][7][8] It reached a new peak of number 11 on the UK Singles Chart in 2018.[1] In a UK-wide poll in December 2012, it was voted twelfth on the ITV television special The Nation's Favourite Christmas Song.[9]

A 2011 version by Stacey Solomon peaked at number 27 on the UK Singles Chart.

Background[edit]

In interviews for the BBC Radio 4 programme Today in 2009, and The Guardian in 2016, Rea said he wrote "Driving Home for Christmas" many years before its first recording; this was in 1978 when Rea needed to get home to Middlesbrough from Abbey Road Studios in London. His wife had come down to drive him home in her Austin Mini to save money because it was cheaper to drive than travel by train. Rea was recently out of contract and the record company wasn't willing to pay for the rail ticket. The inspiration for the song came as they were getting stuck in heavy traffic, while the snow was falling. He started looking at the other drivers, who "all looked so miserable. Jokingly, I started singing: "We're driving home for Christmas..." Then, whenever the street lights shone inside the car, I started writing down lyrics". Rea said Driving Home for Christmas is a "car version of a carol",[10][11] and that he wrote it for Van Morrison but did not manage to get it to him.[12]

It was cited that Rea never played the song live until 2014 at Hammersmith Odeon, he recalls: "the gig was on 20 December, so the road crew kept badgering me to do it. I went, 'If I'm going to sing this fucking song, we're gonna do it properly.' So we hired 12 snow cannons. When we started the song, you couldn't hear it for the noise of the crowd, and we let go with the machines. We put three feet of artificial snow in the stalls. The venue charged me £12,000 to clean it up".[11][13] However, he did play it on the final night of the Old Light Through New Windows tour at the NEC in Birmingham, UK. Not renowned for showmanship Rea departed from his usual performance style with falling snow and balloons in the auditorium and an enormous grinning Santa Claus appearing behind the drum riser.

It was used in Christmas commercials for supermarket chain Iceland in 1997, 1998 and 2011; the last featured a cover by Stacey Solomon. An alternative version of the single was released in Japan as part of an EP called 'Snow'.

Recording[edit]

Rea never planned to write a Christmas song. It was several years later that while testing pianos with keyboard player Max Middleton he found a tune that fit the lyrics. Initially, it was released as a B-side (to the 1986 single "Hello Friend"[14]), but afterwards was re-recorded with strings. Middleton played the distinctive jazzy intro, and together they produced a typical 1950s Christmas carol-type arrangement.[11]

Music video[edit]

A video clip was broadcast on 23 December 1986 by Dutch pop music TV show TopPop.[15]

In 2009, 21 years after the song was first released, an original video was made in aid of Shelter; all proceeds from digital download were donated to the charity. The celebrities who featured in the video were Mike Read, David Hamilton, Martin Shaw, Kristian Digby, Gail Porter, Lizzie Cundy, Ewen MacIntosh, Carol Decker, Giles Vickers-Jones, and Lionel Blair. On the project, Rea stated: "I wanted to do something special this Christmas and what better way than to help keep a roof over people's heads when they need it most – at Christmas. By teaming up with Shelter we can hopefully make a difference".[16]

Driving Home For Christmas (The Christmas EP) 1988[edit]

7 inch
No.TitleLength
1."Driving Home for Christmas"4:33
2."Footsteps in the Snow" 
3."Joys of Christmas" 
4."Smile" (Produced by Dave Richards [2]) 

Driving Home For Christmas - Track listing[edit]

CD
No.TitleLength
1."Driving Home for Christmas"4:33
2."Hello Friend" (Re-Record)4:21

Charts and certifications[edit]

In recent years it charted as follows: In 2008 on Netherlands Digital Songs (No. 4), Euro Digital Tracks (No. 8), in 2009 on Norway Digital Songs (No. 3), on Billboard Japan Hot 100 in 2012 (No. 18) and 2014 (No. 23), while on Denmark Digital Songs in 2016 (No. 9) and 2017 (No. 5).[17]

Stacey Solomon version[edit]

"Driving Home for Christmas"
DrivingHomeforChristmas.jpg
Single by Stacey Solomon
Released18 December 2011
Recorded2011
GenrePop
Length4:01
LabelConehead Management Ltd
Songwriter(s)Chris Rea

Singer and television presenter Stacey Solomon covered the song in 2011 and it was released on 18 December 2011 as her debut single. Originally intended to be used solely in commercials for supermarket chain Iceland and cabins, it was later released as a single due to popular demand, hitting number 27.[43]

Background[edit]

The single was released on 18 December 2011 on iTunes with all proceeds going to Alzheimer's Research UK and children's hospice charity Together For Short Lives.[44] She subsequently said that she was not disappointed that the single did not make it into the UK top 20.[45]

Track listing[edit]

Digital download
No.TitleLength
1."Driving Home for Christmas"3:55
2."Driving Home for Christmas" (Alternative version)3:16

Charts[edit]

Chart (2011) Peak
position
UK Singles (OCC)[46] 27

Other versions[edit]

Other artists who have covered the song include:

In popular culture[edit]

The Chris Rea and Stacey Solomon versions of Driving Home For Christmas were used in the Christmas adverts for supermarket chain Iceland in 1997 and 2011 respectively.[56][43]

In December 2020, a joke about Dominic Cummings' journey to Durham during the coronavirus lockdown, which referenced the song in the punchline, was announced as the winner of UK TV Channel Gold's annual "Christmas Cracker Joke" competition. The joke read: "What is Dominic Cummings’ favourite Christmas song? Driving Home for Christmas".[57]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Official Charts > Chris Rea". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Chris Rea - Driving Home For Christmas (The Christmas EP)". Discogs.
  3. ^ Forums, BuzzJack Entertainment. "Music forums focusing on chart music with chart and entertainment discussion". www.buzzjack.com.
  4. ^ James Masterton (21 August 2013). Top 40 Annual 2012. James Masterton. ISBN 9781301260676.
  5. ^ Rob Hastings (13 December 2010). "All we want for Christmas is an old festive song". The Independent. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  6. ^ Media Monkey (2 December 2010). "Mariah Carey top of the tree at Christmas". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  7. ^ Lauren Kreisler (19 December 2013). "Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Is You tops 1 million sales!". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  8. ^ Rob Copsey (12 December 2014). "I'm streaming of a white Christmas: Mariah and The Pogues set to enter Christmas Number 1 race?". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  9. ^ "The Nation's Favourite Christmas Song". ITV. 22 December 2012.
  10. ^ "Today: Wednesday 16th December". BBC. 16 December 2009.
  11. ^ a b c Dave Simpson (19 December 2016). "Chris Rea: how we made Driving Home for Christmas". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  12. ^ Henry Yates (1 December 2015). "An Interview With The Straight-Talking, No-F**ks-Given Chris Rea". TeamRock. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  13. ^ "Chris Rea Setlist at Eventim Apollo, London". setlist.fm.
  14. ^ "Hello Friend". Discogs. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  15. ^ "Chris Rea - Driving Home For Christmas • TopPop". TopPop&YouTube. 3 December 2015. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  16. ^ "Chris supports Shelter this Christmas". Shelter. 16 December 2009. Retrieved 20 December 2011.
  17. ^ "Chris Rea chart results". Billboard. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  18. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Chris Rea – Driving Home For Christmas" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  19. ^ "Ultratop.be – Chris Rea – Driving Home For Christmas" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  20. ^ "ČNS IFPI" (in Czech). Hitparáda – Digital Top 100 Oficiální. IFPI Czech Republic. Note: Change the chart to CZ – SINGLES DIGITAL – TOP 100 and insert 201751 into search. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  21. ^ "Track Top-40 Uge 52, 2018". Hitlisten. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  22. ^ "Chris Rea: Driving Home For Christmas" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  23. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Chris Rea – Driving Home For Christmas" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  24. ^ "Chris Rea Chart History (Global 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  25. ^ "Official IFPI Charts – Digital Singles Chart (International) – Week: 52/2018". IFPI Greece. Archived from the original on 14 January 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  26. ^ "Archívum – Slágerlisták – MAHASZ" (in Hungarian). Single (track) Top 40 lista. Magyar Hanglemezkiadók Szövetsége. Retrieved 24 December 2018.
  27. ^ "Archívum – Slágerlisták – MAHASZ" (in Hungarian). Stream Top 40 slágerlista. Magyar Hanglemezkiadók Szövetsége. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  28. ^ "Official Irish Singles Chart Top 50". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  29. ^ "Chris Rea Chart History (Japan Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  30. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Chris Rea – Driving Home For Christmas" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 28 December 2019.
  31. ^ "NZ Top 40 Singles Chart". Recorded Music NZ. 31 December 2018. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  32. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Chris Rea – Driving Home For Christmas". VG-lista. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  33. ^ "Listy bestsellerów, wyróżnienia :: Związek Producentów Audio-Video". Polish Airplay Top 100. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  34. ^ "Portuguesecharts.com – Chris Rea – Driving Home For Christmas". AFP Top 100 Singles. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  35. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  36. ^ "SloTop50 – Slovenian official singles chart". slotop50.si. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
  37. ^ "ČNS IFPI" (in Slovak). Hitparáda – Singles Digital Top 100 Oficiálna. IFPI Czech Republic. Note: Select SINGLES DIGITAL - TOP 100 and insert 20185152 into search. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  38. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Chris Rea – Driving Home For Christmas". Singles Top 100. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  39. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Chris Rea – Driving Home For Christmas". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  40. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  41. ^ "Danish single certifications – Chris Rea – Driving Home for Christmas". IFPI Denmark. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  42. ^ "British single certifications – Chris Rea – Driving Home for Christmas". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  43. ^ a b Eames, Tom (3 December 2020). "The Story Of... 'Driving Home for Christmas' by Chris Rea". Smooth Radio. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  44. ^ "Stacey Solomon to release Iceland track as single - Music News". Digital Spy. 26 November 2011. Retrieved 20 December 2011.
  45. ^ Sperling, Daniel (1 November 2012). "Stacey Solomon: 'Simon Cowell could win I'm a Celebrity'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
  46. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  47. ^ "Christmas with the Bachelors by The Bachelors". Retrieved 3 January 2019 – via itunes.apple.com.
  48. ^ "Christmas by Michael Ball". Retrieved 3 January 2019 – via itunes.apple.com.
  49. ^ Gill, Andy (23 December 2011). "Album: Joe McElderry, Classic Christmas (UCJ)". The Independent. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  50. ^ Wade, Ian. "BBC - Music - Review of Saint Etienne - A Glimpse of Stocking". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  51. ^ "Driving Home for Christmas – The High Kings". Last.fm. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  52. ^ "BBC - Lauren Laverne: THE MPFREE FESTIVE GIVEAWAY: LUCY ROSE". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  53. ^ "Driving Home For Christmas". Retrieved 3 January 2019 – via open.spotify.com.
  54. ^ "Driving Home For Christmas". Retrieved 3 January 2019 – via open.spotify.com.
  55. ^ "Driving Home for Christmas". Retrieved 3 January 2019 – via open.spotify.com.
  56. ^ ""We're very excited to be unveiling our Christmas TV Ad for 2011"". Facebook. 10 November 2020. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  57. ^ Bakare, Lanre (8 December 2020). "Dominic Cummings gag voted Christmas cracker joke of the year". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 December 2020.

External links[edit]