80’s Mania Mondays: The Time Is Now, The Place Is Here

Let me say that I’m not an Ebenezer Scrooge when it comes to holiday music. I do have a few rules though. For example, I don’t want to hear it before December 1 in any given year. I know there are some radio stations that started playing Christmas songs before Thanksgiving came, and some that started going all-Christmas songs as soon as the Thanksgiving turkey was cleared off the table. You can miss me with that. Don’t get me wrong, I like hearing holiday songs as much as the next music lover, or Chrstmas fan. I just don’t want to hear them around the clock non-stop, and definitely not before the month of December arrives.

That said, today I’m featuring one of the memorable Christmas songs from the 1980s: Run-DMC’s “Christmas In Hollis.”

“Christmas In Hollis” was released as part of the charity holiday album, A Very Special Christmas, in 1987. A recording to benefit the Special Olympics, it featured many popular artists of the time: Madonna, Whitney Houston, Bon Jovi, Eurythmics, John Cougar Mellencamp, U2 and Sting to name a few. The album itself was a popular success, selling over four million copies in a matter of months.

A Very Special Christmas, Β©1987 A&M Records. Cover art by Keith Haring.

The song is memorable not only because it was the only rap contribution on the album, but Run-DMC’s performance makes it so. According to a story I read while researching, “Christmas In Hollis” almost didn’t happen. When the group was initially approached to be involved with A Very Special Christmas, Run-DMC turned down the offer. Once it was suggested they do a Christmas song about the neighborhood where they come from (Hollis, Queens), they changed their minds. It doesn’t hurt that the song makes me think of fun times had at Christmas. The song that it takes its main sample from also makes me think of fun at Christmas, but not for reasons one might think.

Released back in 1968, Clarence Carter’s “Back Door Santa” is the song sampled in “Christmas In Hollis,” but it’s a Christmas song only because it has Santa in the title. No, this Christmas song is about a “Santa” who sneaks around looking for women whose husbands are “out to play.” It may not be your typical Christmas song, but I love it because it reminds me of songs I used to hear growing up at Christmas. Look for more about some of the Christmas music I used to hear in those days in another post. Incidentally, on the original versions of A Very Special Christmas, “Back Door Santa” was included on the album in a version done by Bon Jovi. It was eventually replaced by another Bon Jovi song, “I Wish Every Day Could Be Like Christmas.”

If you are in that holiday spirit, I hope you enjoy “Christmas In Hollis” as today’s 80’s Mania Monday song. As always, thanks for reading and listening.

26 Replies to “80’s Mania Mondays: The Time Is Now, The Place Is Here”

  1. I think you are nicer than I am in terms of Christmas music. I think I had overkill on Boney M, while growing up. But it is refreshing to listen to other versions. We play our Christmas music on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Of course, you can’t get away from holiday music in the stores. Trust Clarence Carter to come in through the back door.πŸ˜€

    There are some good smooth jazz version around as well. One of my favourites is the “Little Drummer Boy (Ghetto) by Kirk Whalum. – the one with drums on his Christmas Message Album – couldn’t find the right version on the internet.
    Maybe, I’ll do a Christmas song post soon – you’ve inspired me πŸ˜€

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Before Christmas creep (as I call the period of getting ready for Christmas) set in, we never heard Christmas music until December turned on the calendar, so I guess that’s why I’m a stickler for it. I listen to smooth jazz versions of songs now also, but I also listen to songs I grew up listening to with the occasional journey with artists I like who have performed holiday songs.

      Please do a Christmas song post…you know I will read it!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll take up the challenge for sure. I suppose Christmas became so commercialised along the way that Christmas has a different feel to the one we grew up with. As a child for me, Christmas was about holidays but also very centred around church and all the rituals that go with it. Of course, it was also about celebrating the birth and life of Jesus.

        I guess our societies have become so much more secular. But I am going to take up your challenge and refresh my take on ChristmasπŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember a take on the song, The Twelve Days of Christmas…sung by a woman from probably the 60’s, maybe even 50’s era of female singers. In her version, her honey is giving her alcohol. She is good and well lit by the time she gets to the first “five golden rings.” It’s downhill from there and absolutely hilarious. I would hear it when we went to visit some good friends of my mom’s every Christmas. I miss that song but have no idea who sang it or what it’s official title was. I miss those days when Christmas was filled with house hopping, good food, and music. Anyway, thanks for taking me back to a not-so-traditional Christmas tune :-).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve seen a couple versions of “Drunk 12 Days Of Christmas” on YouTube, but I’m not familiar with the version you are talking about. If you find it, you’ll have to let me know; it sounds plenty interesting and funny. You’re welcome for the return trip πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m with you on hearing Christmas music before December. I love the beat on Christmas in Hollis! The song makes me laugh every time too! Lol. The other day I told my son Christmas was canceled because he was acting up! I told him I was going to call Santa and tell him not to come! Lol. He almost started crying so I just said be quiet then and quit being bad! Lol. I feel like a bad mom. I’m not feeling Christmas this year at all! I haven’t really blogged about it or even put my tree up YET. I guess this week I’ll have to…I need to finish shopping too. I have a couple of other gifts to get.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You aren’t a bad mom; my folks used to tell us we had to behave or we’d get nothing for Christmas! I’m having a hard time getting into the spirit too. Even though I’m okay with hearing Christmas songs now, I’ve barely heard any, and I’ve barely done any shopping. I bought my first gift tonight. And no, my tree isn’t up yet either; even though I took off last Friday to specifically put it up and fix Christmas cards.

      Glad you like Christmas in Hollis…it is a cool Christmas song.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. He’s just all excited about his birthday right now. He wants his cookie cake and Olive Garden. I’ll try to be more festive in the next few days. Lol. Do you send Christmas cards??

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the Very Special Christmas collections and own several. I love the soulful feel, smooth voice and horns in Backdoor Santa. Never heard this one growing up! Thanks for introducing us, letting me hear it now. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re very welcome Joan! I used to giggle when I heard “Back Door Santa” as a child, I thought it was the craziest Christmas song I ever heard. When I got older and understood what ol’ Clarence was talking about, I still liked it, but I looked at it a bit differently ;). There’s a story behind that song and a bunch of others I grew up hearing at Christmas; I’m hoping to write about it soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “…I don’t want to hear it before December 1 in any given year”
    I am sooooo with you on that Twin. And yes, some places were playing that stuff BEFORE Thanksgiving!
    Honestly, I have thought about wearing my earphones in the store because I’ll invariable hear something like, “What do the lonely do at Christmas” or “Christmas just ain’t Christmas,” or “Please come home for Christmas”
    Depressing ain’t the word for a couple of these jams; though I do love “Santa Claus is coming to town” but the Jfive or “Rudolph the Red-nosed reindeer ” by the Temptations.
    Even Otis and “Merry Christmas Baby” carries too many memories!
    Sorry for the rant!
    You know how I do!
    Loved this post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Twin! Though I am a big fan of “Please Come Home For Christmas,” mainly because I grew up with Charles Brown’s bluesy original. There’s a story of that coming on the blog. I like all (yes, all) the songs you mentioned in your “rant” LOL.

      Yeah, I KNOW how you do, and I like that. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. LOl!!!
        Yeah, the Charles Brown one nearly reduces me to tears every time.
        It always has–even before I was old enough to know who he was talking to and why he wanted her to come home for Christmas! LOL!!!


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