Best 13 Christmas Folk Songs

Best 13 , Christmas Folk Songs

13 – The Pogues, Fairytale of New York (1987)

Fairytale of New York” is a song written by Jem Finer and Shane MacGowan and first released as a single on 23 November 1987 by their band The Pogues, featuring singer-songwriter Kirsty MacColl on vocals. The song was written as a duet, with the Pogues’ singer MacGowan taking the role of the male character and MacColl the female character. It is an Irish folk-style ballad, and featured on The Pogues’ 1988 album If I Should Fall from Grace with God.

12- The Band, Christmas Must Be Tonight (1977)


11- Paul Simon, Getting Ready for Christmas Day (2010)

10 – Gordon Lightfoot, Song For a Winter’s Night (1967)

Song for a Winter’s Night” is a song written by Gordon Lightfoot, and first recorded for his 1967 album, The Way I Feel. Lightfoot actually recorded two versions of the song; the second appears on the 1975 album Gord’s Gold, a greatest hits compilation on which other re-recordings also appeared.

9- Andrew Bird, Auld Lang Syne (2012)

a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1788  and set to the tune of a traditional folk song (Roud # 6294). It is well known in many countries, especially in the English-speaking world, its traditional use being to bid farewell to the old year at the stroke of midnight. By extension, it is also sung at funerals, graduations and as a farewell or ending to other occasions. The international Boy Scout youth movement, in many countries, uses it to close jamborees and other functions.

8- Jim Croce, It Doesn’t Have the Be That Way (1973)

It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way” is a song written and recorded by Jim Croce for his 1973 album Life and Times. Originally released early that year as the B-side of the “One Less Set of Footsteps” single, it was reissued that December as the third and final single from the album as well as Croce’s second posthumously-released single. It reached a peak of #64 on the Billboard Hot 100, spending five weeks on the chart.

7- Johnny Cash and Neil Young, Little Drummer Boy

The Little Drummer Boy” (originally known as “Carol of the Drum“) is a popular Christmas song written by the American classical music composer and teacher Katherine Kennicott Davis in 1941.[1] It was recorded in 1951 by the Trapp Family Singers and realised on the choir’s first LP Christmas with the Trapp Family Singers and released as a single (45rpm). These were the first recordings released on their new record label Decca Records and further popularized by a 1958 recording by the Harry Simeone Chorale. This version was re-released successfully for several years and the song has been recorded many times since


6- Bob Dylan, It Must Be Santa (2009)

in November 2009, Bob Dylan covered the song in a polka style (influenced by a previous version by Brave Combo) for his Christmas album, Christmas in the Heart. The New York Daily News described Dylan’s version as such: “It’s sort of unclear if Dylan (…) was aiming to celebrate the holiday, or gently poke fun at the music’s Norman Rockwell-esque simplicity.”[4]Dylan’s version has the names of several USA presidents mixed in with the list of Santa’s reindeer–only one of the mentioned presidents had served in the White House when the song was originally published. The song is one of two by Dylan that includes a raucous party in the background.

5- Joni Mitchell, River (1971)

River” is a Christmas folk song by Joni Mitchell, from her 1971 album Blue. Although never released as a single, it has become one of Mitchell’s most recorded songs

4- Steeleye Span, Gaudete (1973)

sacred Christmas carol, which is thought to have been composed in the 16th century, but could easily have existed as a monophonic hymn in the late medieval period, with polyphonic Alto, Tenor, and Bass parts added during the 15th century, particularly due to its Medieval Latin lyrics. The song was published in Piae Cantiones, a collection of Finnish/Swedish sacred songs published in 1582. No music is given for the verses, but the standard tune comes from older liturgical books.

3- Laura Marling, Goodbye England (Covered in Snow) (2009)

“Goodbye England (Covered in Snow)” is a single by Laura Marling. It was released on December 11, 2009 as the lead single from her second album I Speak Because I Can. The song peaked to number 133 on the UK Singles Chart.

2- Greg Lake, I Believe in Father Christmas (1975)

I Believe in Father Christmas” is a song by English musician Greg Lake with lyrics by Peter Sinfield. Although it is often categorised as a Christmas song, this was not Lake’s intention. He said that he wrote the song in protest at the commercialisation of Christmas.  Sinfield, however, said that the words are about a loss of innocence and childhood belief.[2] Released in 1975, the song reached number two on the UK Singles Chart.

1-   Simon & Garfunkel, 7 O’Clock News / Silent Night (1966)

7 O’Clock News/Silent Night” is a song by American music duo Simon & Garfunkel from their third studio album, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (1966). The track is sound collage juxtaposing a rendition of the Christmas carolSilent Night” with a simulated “7 O’Clock News” bulletin of the actual events of August 3, 1966.

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  1. Here are some more:
    Sufjan Stevens – I Saw Three Ships
    Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials – Christmas Time
    Murder By Death – O Holy Night
    Lyle Lovett – Christmas Morning
    Great North – A Guiding Star
    The Eastern – Hope and Wire
    Tami Neilson – She Dances with Angels
    John Lee Hooker – Blues for Christmas
    Mark Lanegan – We Three Kings
    The Chills – I Saw Three Ships
    mark Kozelek – 2,000 Miles
    The Handsome Family – So Much Wine
    Marta Sebestyen – Bethlehem, Bethlehem
    Cotton Top Mountain Sanctified Singers – Christ was Born on Christmas Morn
    Sonny Boy Williamson – Santa Claus
    Jerry Douglas – Beautiful Star of Bethlehem
    The Cox Family – Go Tell It On the Mountain

    … and there are a lot more!

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