Sure, “Fairytale of New York” is probably the best-known, but there are actually quite a few non-traditional “Christmas songs” that aren’t actually Christmas songs, but that make sense to listen to during the season. Here’s a short playlist.
Mogwai “Christmas Song” – The mostly-instrumental Scottish group included this gem on an obscure ep years ago. It’s Christmas Eve-quiet and best listened to when snow is falling. Oddly enough, Mogwai also have a song called “Xmas Steps,” which is good, but not as pretty.
Passengers “Miss Sarajevo” – “Is there a time for tying ribbons? A time for Christmas trees?” Bono’s questions follow a stirring performance by Luciano Pavarotti and frame a reminder of the need for peace at all times of the year and in all places in the world.
My Morning Jacket “Xmas Curtain” – Back before they got all psychedelic-jam-band on us, MMJ were just a twangy quintet of Southern gents who once upon a time did Xmas Fiasco Style.
Murder City Devils “364 Days” – The Seattle punks penned this “open letter to Saint Nicolas” as a meditation on what happens to Old St. Nick when it’s not Christmastime. And it’s pretty sad.
Red Red Meat “There’s A Star Above The Manger Tonight” – A gold star (above the manger) for you if you remember Tim Rutili’s pre-Califone alt band from the 90’s. You’ll hear a lot of Califone in this ode to gambling that’s heavy-laden with Christmas Eve imagery.