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.
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.