Behind the Meaning and the History of “Christmas Song” by Dave Matthews

Released as an acoustic song on the debut LP by the Dave Matthews Band, Remember Two Things, “Christmas Song” is a retelling of the first Christmas by Matthews.

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The song, which DMB plays live often and has appeared on other albums since its debut, including Live at Luther College and Live at the United Center, is a fan favorite for its nonchalant, real-life portrayal of figures that have been mythologized.

In the end, the song rings a distinct bell, bridging the Biblical with the human experience.

Matthews opens the song by singing:

She was his girl, he was her boyfriend 
Soon to be his wife, make him her husband 
A surprise on the way, any day, any day 
One healthy little giggling, dribbling baby boy 
The Wise Men came, three made their way 
To shower him with love 
While he lay in the hay 
Shower him with love, love, love 
Love love, love 
Love, love was all around 

Matthews continues with the story of Jesus’ life growing up to becoming the figure we know him as today. The rubbery-voiced frontman sings:

Not very much of his childhood was known 
Kept his mother Mary worried 
Always out on his own 
He met another Mary who for a reasonable fee 
Less than reputable was known to be 
His heart was full of love, love, love 
Love, love, love 
Love, love was all around 

When Jesus Christ was nailed to the his tree 
Said “Oh, Daddy-o, I can see how it all soon will be. 
I came to shed a little light on this darkening scene. 
Instead I fear I’ve spilled the blood of our children all around.” 
The blood of our children all around 
The blood of our children’s all around 

The song is a reminder about the real center and core of Christmas: to love those around us in the world. To forgive. To focus on appreciation. Sings Matthews:

Father up above, 
Why in all this anger do you fill me up with love, love, love? 
Love, love, love 
Love, love was all around 

That is the lesson Jesus learns on the Cross and it’s the one we’re supposed to remember as we watch our holiday movies, eat our confections, open our presents and adore Santa.

Check out three renditions of DMB’s “Christmas Song” below, its original release, acoustic and live with the full band from the Windy City.

Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival

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