Robert O’Connor Tugs At Our Heartstrings With Reinterpretation Of Joni Mitchell’s Christmas Song ‘River’

Robert O’Connor returns with his latest single, ‘River’. Released in time for Christmas, the Dublin-born singer songwriter has put his stamp on the Joni Mitchell classic.

For the single, with the help of producer Stuart Gray, known for his work with Hozier, and Ryan Sheridan), O’Connor has removed the original track’s piano line and replaced it with a scant electric guitar, and sparse drums. It’s his voice which is the focal point of the track: he’s taken the song and brought out the inherent longing and deep sadness. Lyrics such as “I’m gonna make a lot of money and then I’m gonna quit this crazy scene” emote the almost anxiety felt in the track. It’s a stunning rendition, with the overall lasting impression being that this year has been a crazy busy one and yet, for all his wistful pondering, the singer has no intention of swapping it for a peaceful life.

The Nashville influence in O’Connor’s music is very evident in this track – listen out for ‘Jingle Bells’ towards the end. His voice is pure and soft, and moving – if this song doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, especially at this time of year when we’re all thinking of what we’ve achieved and what lays ahead, then I’m not sure what will!

Speaking about the track, O’Connor said,

After the success of my previous two singles at radio, I didn’t want to wait until 2019 to release more music. People were saying to me, ‘you’re mad to even think about releasing in the fourth quarter’, so I thought, now is the moment to record and release my version of my favourite ever Christmas song. We did it in two days, and we were mastering in the middle of night before it went to radio. I love that in this era, we can literally deliver new work direct from studio, there’s less of a wait time because it’s digital only, it’s exciting!

Find Robert O’Connor online on his official website, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Stream ‘River’ on Spotify.

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About the author

Lisa has been writing for over 20 years, starting as the entertainment editor on her university newspaper. Since then she's written for Popwrapped, Maximum Pop, Celebmix, and ListenOnRepeat.

Lisa loves all good music, with particular fondness for Jedward and David Bowie. She's interviewed Edward Grimes (Jedward), Kevin Godley, Trevor Horn, Paul Young, Peter Cox (Go West), Brendan B Brown (Wheatus), Bruce Foxton (The Jam), among many many more. Lisa is also available for freelance writing - please email

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