The Spaceman Christmas Story

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In 1975, Irish singer songwriter Chris De Burgh (best known for his 1986 love song “Lady in Red”) posed a question of the traditional Nativity story . . . what if the Angel Gabriel was actually an alien from another planet?

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Thus was born the song “A Spaceman Came Travelling” which despite its initial failures has become a staple Christmas song of Britain and Ireland.

A_Spaceman_Came_TravellingBack in 1975, De Burgh had just signed his first recording contract with A&M Records, but was broke and “staying at a friend’s flat” when he read Chariots of the Gods? by Erich von Däniken. The book made him think “what if the star of Bethlehem was a space craft and what if there is a benevolent being or entity in the universe keeping an eye on the world and our foolish things that we do to each other?”

A fan of Irish poet William Butler Yeats, whose work “The Second Coming” avers that every 2,000 years or so there would be a major cataclysmic event happening, de Burgh saw the birth of Christ as “such an event and then 2,000 years later there would be a similar” one. He imagined “the nativity scene, the thing hovering over and I could see the shepherds in the fields and this weird, ethereal music was drifting into the air and they were ‘what the heck is that’?” But he “had no ideas about trying to write a hit record.” The song failed to chart when it was first released as a single, but De Burgh says it’s been “much better to have a regular recurring song than a hit for three weeks.”

Despite being a popular Christmas song in Britain and Ireland, the song appears to lack an official music video, but the best one in my opinion uses footage from David Tennant’s tenure in Doctor Who to create a narrative in which the Doctor is the “Spaceman” of the story. This pairing works really well seeing that following the transition from the ninth Doctor to the tenth, the BBC has produced a Doctor Who Christmas Special each year since.

Listen to more Outer Space Music HERE and see what happens when you get stuck between rock and a dork place.


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