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Far Out 40: The perfect festive playlist for people who hate Christmas songs


The kitsch and camp world of jingle bells and the same regurgitated rubbish is not for everyone. In fact, the same 20 Christmas songs that prove inescapable year on year can drive some people up the wall. But that doesn’t quite make you a total Scrooge either. Just because you don’t want to step into Christmas doesn’t mean that you can’t dig a frosty vibe. 

Thus, to help you feel a little bit less like the Grinch, we’ve curated a playlist filled with the air of festivity without anybody “dashing through the snow” or divas claiming they “don’t want a lot for Christmas” – just good old winter warmers. They might seem a touch melancholy, but Christmas is a cosy time and if the solemnity gets you down then you can always check out The Fall’s anti-Christmas (by proxy) anthems. 

As the aforementioned Fall frontman Mark E. Smith said himself: “I must admit I don’t like Christmas in England because everywhere closes down for three weeks. It’s disgusting,” he bemoaned, “You can’t get any bread or milk and that’s what the song’s about. Christmas is more of a family time…where families can beat each other up.” With that inevitability in the welter, you may well need a bit of dower downtime, so we’ve got you covered there too. 

In short, there are some songs that simply seem to come into their own around Christmas as though there is some special season chord. So, even though these tunes might not be about Santa, and, in fact, they might not even make reference to the cold or starry skies, they seem to us to sit perfectly in the Christmas sweet spot like a tipple and a mince pie. 

Below we’ve collected tracks from Tom Waits and Nina Simone to Laura Marling and Fleet Foxes for the ultimate winter playlist the defies all the usual Christmas tropes but still packs a festive punch.

The ultimate winter (non-Christmas) playlist:

  • ‘Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis’ by Tom Waits
  • ‘It’s Raining’ by Irma Thomas
  • ‘Indiana’ by Adrianne Lenker, Buck Meek
  • ‘Not Dark Yet’ by Bob Dylan
  • ‘White Winter Hymnal’ by Fleet Foxes
  • ‘Winter Song’ by Lindisfarne
  • ‘Ice People’ by Link Wray
  • ‘Fairy Tale Lullaby’ by John Martyn
  • ‘A Summer Long since Passed’ by Virginia Astley
  • ‘The Moonbeam Song’ by Harry Nilsson
  • ‘Sound and Vision’ by David Bowie
  • ‘Goodbye England. (Covered in the Snow)’ by Laura Marling
  • ‘Everybody Hurts’ by Alice Boman
  • ‘Waiting on You’ by Reverend Baron
  • ‘Touchdown’ by Nina Hynes
  • ‘Chimacum Rain’ by Linda Perhacs
  • ‘Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy)’ by Al Green
  • ‘Green Eyes’ by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
  • ‘The Lady is Risen’ by Johnny Flynn
  • ‘Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues’ by Nina Simone
  • ‘The Lovers’ by Rod McKuen
  • ‘Bookends Theme’ by Simon & Garfunkel
  • ‘The Healing Day’ by Bill Fay
  • ”A Rainy Night in Soho’ by The Pogues
  • ‘Milk and Honey’ by Jackson C Frank
  • ‘Just Like the Rain’ by Richard Hawley
  • ‘Little River’ by The Tallest Man on Earth
  • ‘Moon’s Opera’ by Orlando Weeks
  • ‘Stardust’ by Nat King Cole
  • ‘The Fairest of the Seasons’ by Nico
  • ‘Dublin City Sky’ by Fontaines D.C.
  • ‘Secret Heart’ by Ron Sexsmith
  • ‘Come in from the Cold’ by Joni Mitchell
  • ‘Cause’ by Rodriguez
  • ‘Cloudy Shoes’ by Damien Jurado
  • ‘Hey Moon’ by John Maus
  • ‘Stormy Weather’ by Etta James
  • ‘Feels Like Home’ by Randy Newman
  • ‘On My Way Back Home’ by Band of Horses
  • ‘I Want to Thank You’ by Otis Redding