Rockin’ Around the Tree with Brenda Lee
It seems appropriate that singer Brenda Lee was born in December as so many people know her for her 1958 hit “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” At 13, she was already a hit as a child singer on the radio when she got the chance to record a new song by Johnny Marks. Marks had previously written “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” so the record company was a little surprised when Lee’s recording of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” fizzled. Over the years, the tune has built momentum and made a comeback to become a holiday classic. It probably helped a bit when the song was featured in 1990’s “Home Alone” with Kevin faking a swinging party to throw off robbers Harry and Marv.
Today, Lee’s recording has sold over 25 million copies and ranks toward the top of digital download chart each Christmas season. To capture a little more of that money for herself, Brenda Lee has just released the first official music video of the song to YouTube. At age 78, she lipsynchs along to the vocals of her 13-year-old self with cameos from Trisha Yearwood and Tanya Tucker.
I briefly met Brenda Lee years ago at the Nashville Planet Hollywood – when Nashville had a Planet Hollywood. I was there as a TV reporter from Evansville, IN and she was there as a celeb grandma making sure her grandkids got into Planet Hollywood. I remember her as tiny and charismatic and willing to pretend she was excited to meet a reporter from Evansville. I didn’t need to pretend I was excited to meet Brenda Lee, the first woman to be in both the county and rock-n-roll halls of fame.