“Driving Home for Christmas” by Chris Rea
The origin of Chris Rea’s “Driving Home for Christmas” actually dates back to the late 1970s. This was about a decade before Chris really established himself as a permanent artist in the UK music scene, and relatedly, by the looks of things, he faced economic struggles.
This included for instance opting to have his wife pick him up in an automobile from London’s Abbey Road Studios, nearly 300 miles from their home in Middlesborough. The sole purpose of this was to save money because the more efficient train travel was also more expensive, and his superiors on the musical food chain wouldn’t foot the bill.
This was around Christmastime, and accordingly in the UK it was quite snowy. Moreover, Chris and his wife had to deal with considerable traffic during their trek home. And Rea was able to perceive that inline with such an experience, other drivers on the road were quite miserable also.
So being the artist that he is, he used that universally uncomfortable journey to simultaneously write a song, i.e. “Driving Home for Christmas” – a fact that he speaks directly to in the second verse.
The Lyrics of “Driving Home for Christmas”
In fact reading in between the lines of the lyrics more or less reveals the exact same narrative as mentioned above. Early on, the vocalist lets it be known that he is indeed “driving home for Christmas”. He also implies that “it’s been so long” since he’s been there.
Of course with the foreknowledge above, we know in that regard that he’s most likely referring to spending a considerable amount of time in traffic, a factor that is made more blaringly known later on in the song.
But putting it that way also makes it seem as if maybe the vocalist hadn’t literally been home for a long time. And as far as a thesis sentiment goes, it does revolve around the singer’s earnest desire to reach his domicile which, all facts considered, may be interpreted as being more about finally getting out of traffic than anything else.
There is also an unidentified addressee that comes into play whom Chris is ‘singing for’, even if said individual ‘can’t hear him’. And going a bit out on a limb, well first of all said addressee would likely be the listening audience itself.
And secondly, in that respect this piece is intended to read more like a traditional Christmas song, not so much being about beating traffic but rather a more general, conventional yearning to actually be at home during what is considered the most important family-oriented holiday in Western civilization.
So with all of that in mind, it can be said the title is sort of a double entendre. This factual side of the narrative is indeed based on a less-than-ideal ride home the vocalist engaged in during Christmastime.
But ultimately the more pressing point is that experience was tolerable, indeed even necessary at the time in the name of being in his comfort zone and alongside his loved ones, i.e. at home, during this paramount holiday.
Chris Rea is a singer/guitarist from the UK that has been in the game since the early 1970s. He released a prolific-level 25 studio albums between 1978 and 2019. His most notable success came during the late 1980s into the late 1990s. During that period, he dropped six successive studio albums, beginning with 1987’s “Dancing with Strangers” and concluding with 1998’s “The Blue Cafe”, that scored within the top 10 of the UK Singles Chart.
Furthermore, a couple of them also topped the aforementioned album chart list. This is on top of a handful of these projects performing exceptionally well on the Billboard 200.
Facts about “Driving Home for Christmas”
As for “Driving Home for Christmas”, it was written in 1978. However, it didn’t come out until serving as the B-side to a single Chris released in 1986 entitled “Hello Friend”.
But the version of this song that actually blew up was totally different from the original of 1986. This new version appeared on Chris’ 1988 compilation album “New Light Through Old Windows”.
Chris wrote and co-produced this track (alongside Stuart Eales).
The 1988 rendition charted in over 20 countries, also peaking at number 11 (in 2018) on the UK Singles Chart. It also went double-platinum in Denmark.
This Christmas tune was also exceptionally well received in Iceland. In this country, it was featured in a number of very popular Christmas commercials throughout the years.
“Driving Home for Christmas” charted in the top 10 spot in the countries below:
- Austria (No. 3)
- Denmark (No. 6)
- Germany (No. 3)
- Hungary (No. 5)
- Netherlands (No. 4)
- Norway (No. 2)
- Slovenia (No. 1)
- Sweden (No. 5)
During Christmastime of 2014, Chris Rea pimped out a performance of “Driving Home for Christmas” complete with, according to his recollection, “three feet of artificial snow”. And it cost him over £11,000 to properly clean the venue, London’s Hammersmith Apollo (aka the Eventim Apollo), of said substance.
More Interesting Facts
Also, this song did eventually get its own official music video, in 2009. And said clip served as a charity video. All the proceeds generated from the clip were donated to a UK-based NGO called Shelter.
This tune was covered by Stacey Solomon, another singer from England, in 2011. Stacey’s version performed moderately well on the UK Singles Chart.
This song became hugely popular again the UK in 2020. This was because Britons used it as a means of parodying or criticizing COVID-19 prevention regulations which actually prevented many from visiting loved ones during the holidays.