This perennially popular Christmas tune was originally recorded by Chris Rea in 1986, peaking at #53 on the UK single chart two years later. Since 2007, the song has re-entered the UK Top 75 each year around Christmas time as well as several other European country's listings.
Rea wrote the song many years before he first recorded it. The idea came to him when he was stuck in heavy traffic heading out of London in his wife's Austin Mini with the prospect of a long drive to his home town of Middlesbrough ahead. He told BBC Radio 4's Today program, "Driving Home for Christmas" is a "car version of a carol."
The song was used in Christmas commercials for frozen food retail chain Iceland in 1997, 1998, and 2011 respectively, with the latter featuring a cover by singer and TV presenter Stacey Solomon. Her version was released as a single peaking at #27 in the UK. All the proceeds went to Alzheimer's Research UK and children's hospice charity Together For Short Lives.
Being stuck in traffic has proved to be a fruitful experience for Chris Rea. Another of his most successful songs, "The Road To Hell (Part Two)," was written by the singer while caught up in a jam on the M25.