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Un(covered): Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”
Writers: Jeff Barry, Phil Spector, Ellie Greenwich
Original Release Date: November 22, 1963

If you’re looking for a Christmas song to croon to an absent paramour this holiday season, look no further than “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”.

Originally sung by Darlene Love in 1963, Rolling Stone once referred to it as the Greatest Rock and Roll Christmas Song. While it’s not my personal favorite, it remains a classic for its catchy lyrics, old-timey charm, and, of course, Love’s powerful and emotional vocals.

The song’s been covered many times by a variety of bands (including reigning Christmas king and Canadian treasure, Michael Bublé), but the U2 cover has always been a staple in my house.

Recorded during a pre-show soundcheck in 1987, it has since become one of the most well-known Christmas covers. Bono’s iconic voice is so full of longing, he makes you really believe that he’s heartbroken over his missing love, and the “ohs” and “yeahs” scattered throughout make it sound like a classic U2 song. And, like a seal of approval, Darlene Love herself provided backing vocals!  

A couple of years ago, I discovered the Anberlin cover. Though it’s more “electronic” (the YouTube comments section is full of cries of “auto-tune!”) than the U2 version, Anberlin brought their own alternative rock vibe to the song and it’s oddly soothing to hear Stephen Christian singing a beloved festive song. The only weird part is the unexpected guitar solo in the outro, which doesn’t really fit with the rest of the song.

Maybe I’m still sore that they canceled their last ever show in Toronto because of a snowstorm, but the Anberlin cover gives me the feels. Nevertheless, Darlene Love has a powerful voice, and you can’t deny the charm of those chiming bells ringing her in.

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