Nothing signals the arrival of the holiday better than hearing the annual return of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee on the radio. It remains a favorite holiday tune decades after Little Miss Dynamite first recorded it. Johnny Marks, the Jewish songwriter behind the classic hits “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” was the one that wrote the song for Lee.
According to Lee, who struck a lifelong friendship with Marks, the songwriter always wanted her to do the song. She says he sought her out when she was only 12 after learning about her singing talent, and she did it for him.
Brenda Lee recorded the song “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” along with members of Nashville’s A-Team, a legendary collective of session musicians. The group included artists such as Hank Garland, Grady Martin, Boots Randolph, and Anita Kerr. Lee says the experience was magic, and they all knew the song would be extraordinary.
Lee also says that while it took a bit of time, the song didn’t slow down once it took off. The song’s release in 1958 wasn’t a success, and it wasn’t until its re-release after Lee’s 1960s mega-hit, “I’m Sorry,” that “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” started catching on. It started cracking that year’s pop charts, entering the top 20 and continuing to perform exceptionally well in the succeeding holiday seasons.
When 1990 came, the smash hit movie “Home Alone” featured “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” in all its glory. That led to the exposure of a new generation of people to the classic holiday tune. Most of these new listeners weren’t even born when Lee charted her last non-holiday Top 10 hit a decade before they heard it. The movie was a blessing that gave new life to one of Brenda Lee’s Greatest Hits.
Throughout the years, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee has gained worldwide recognition and has been covered by countless artists. It’s truly a song fitting to signal the start of the merriest season of the year. For those of you that are in a jolly mood and want to hear the song, you can click here now.