Christmas is here, and to help make it rock, we’ve compiled a list of the Top 5 Classic Rock Holiday Songs!
1. Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime”
Paul McCartney wrote, sang and provided all the instrumentals for his 1979 Christmas song, “Wonderful Christmastime.” From year-to-year, the tune gets substantial airplay every season and Sir Paul even performed the song on Saturday Night Live on December 15, 2012.
And keeping him in the holiday spirit, it has been reported that “Wonderful Christmastime” generates upwards of $400,000 annually in royalty checks for Sir Paul.
2. Bob Seger’s “Sock it to Me Santa”
In 1966, Bob Seger released his James Brown-esque Christmas tune, “Sock It to Me Santa.” At the time, Seger was touring as Bob Seger and the Last Heard; a group compiled of members from his previous two bands.
“Sock It to Me Santa” is an up-beat change of pace from the more traditional songs, helping to put a little bit of Rock and Roll into your holiday season.
3. David Bowie/Bing Crosby’s “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy”
A seemingly unlikely duo, David Bowie and Bing Crosby teamed up to sing the classic “Little Drummer Boy” in 1977. However, Bowie originally stated he didn’t care for the song, so he added his own piece to it, and created “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy.”
After only an hour of rehearsal, the two performed the duet for CBS’ Christmas special, which aired just weeks after Crosby’s death.
4. John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas/War is Over”
“Happy Christmas (War Is Over)” is a song written and performed by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. John and Yoko are joined on this 1971 holiday staple by the Harlem Community Choir.
This was the first Christmas song released by a former Beatles member and is a vivid protest to the Vietnam War. It was released at the height of Lennon and Ono’s peace activism movement.
5. Bruce Springsteen’s “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”
“Santa Claus is Coming to Town” is originally from 1934 and has been covered countless times, one of the most famous being by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band. In 1978, the band recorded a live version of the song and added it to the B-side of “My Hometown.”
They are known to typically play the song at live concerts during events leading up to December 25. However, Springsteen did play “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” at the summer festival, Bonnaroo, in 2009.
Tom Petty’s “Christmas All Over Again”
In 1992, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released “Christmas All Over Again.” The song appeared on the Playback box set as well as A Very Special Christmas; a CD to benefit the Special Olympics. By donating the royalties to the organization, “Christmas All Over Again” has raised more than $200,000 since 1992.
The song was also featured in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, when Kevin doesn’t realize he is on the wrong flight because he's too busy rockin' out to Tom Petty!
The Kinks’ “Father Christmas”
The Kinks released their song, “Father Christmas,” in 1977 on their album, Misfits. Written by Ray Davies, it has been covered by several artists, most notably Warrant, Green Day, Bowling For Soup and Smash Mouth. “Father Christmas” even appeared on commercials for the 2006 film, Unaccompanied Minors.
The somber tune tells the story of an unfortunate man dressed as a department store Santa Claus who is beaten up by a gang of poor kids. They insist Father Christmas give them money rather than toys.
Queen’s “Thank God It’s Christmas”
Roger Taylor and Brian May wrote “Thank God It’s Christmas” for Queen in 1984. Released only as a single, the song spent six weeks on the UK charts over the holiday season.
It wasn’t until 2011 that the song found its way onto an actual Queen album, though, when they packaged a bonus EP with the reissued, deluxe edition of The Works.