Brenda Lee's Rockin Around The Christmas Tree
November 27, 2019

In October 1958, 13-year-old wunderkind Brenda Lee entered the recording studio to record a new song by Johnny Marks, the songwriter behind "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer," called "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree" that her and her producer, Owen Bradley, felt had a lot of potential. Lee, who had already earned the nickname, "Little Dynamite," belted out the lyrics, "Rockin' around the Christmas tree/At the Christmas party hop/Mistletoe hung where you can see/Every couple tries to stop" while the band rocked on around her and created one of the biggest, most indelible, holiday songs of all time. "It was just one of those magical moments in the studio when everything came together," Lee remembered. "The sax solo, the little guitar lick that's in there. Everything just sort of fell into place."

Surprisingly, when originally released the following month as her second Christmas single, backed with the Cajun-flavored holiday tune, "Papa Noel," the song failed to make a dent in the charts. It was déjà vu all over again the following year too, but in 1960 when Lee's teenage anthem of unrequited love, "I'm Sorry," became a #1 smash hit, Decca Records reissued "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree" and the song turned into a #14 hit. Over the last six decades the timeless song has become a perennial holiday favorite around the globe with continual airplay and streaming and has sold more than 36 million copies with the 5th most digital downloads sold of any Christmas single. It has been featured in several movies including an iconic scene in the hit movie, "Home Alone." Since 2014 "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree" has returned annually to the Billboard Hot 100 chart and last year as it turned 60, it reached an all-time chart peak of #9 during the holiday season.

For the first time, all 18 of Brenda Lee's Christmas recordings she recorded for Decca Records in the '50s and '60s are now available on vinyl on Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree: The Decca Christmas Recordings (Decca/MCA Nashville/UMe). Originally released in 1999 on CD, the new vinyl edition commemorates the compilation's 20th anniversary and is available on standard weight black vinyl. The collection includes her first holiday single "Christy Christmas," and the twangy b-side "I'm Gonna Lasso Santa Claus," from her very first recording session when she was just 11 years old as well as every song from her 1964 full-length holiday album, Merry Christmas From Brenda Lee, which has been out-of-print on vinyl for more than three decades. It includes her inspired takes on holiday hits, "Jingle Bell Rock," "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," "Silver Bells," "Winter Wonderland," "Blue Christmas," "A Marshmallow World," and "Frosty The Snowman." Other highlights include the orchestral "This Time Of Year," the melancholy ballad "Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely Day," and longtime fan favorite "The Angel and The Little Blue Bell." The vinyl release also boasts three tracks originally only available on the Japanese release of her 1964 album which are all making their U.S. vinyl debut: "White Christmas," "Silent Night" and "Jingle Bells."

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When I recorded 'Rockin'' in 1958, I never could have dreamt that it would become a Christmas standard that would be listened to year after year and loved by generation after generation

Brenda Lee

"When I recorded 'Rockin'' in 1958, I never could have dreamt that it would become a Christmas standard that would be listened to year after year and loved by generation after generation," says Brenda Lee. "I always loved the song and knew it was great, and that was the main criteria for me and Owen, but we never imagined it would become the quintessential Christmas song it has become, it's been an amazing journey with this song. I thought 'Home Alone' was a pretty darn good video so I never brought up the idea of a video but I'm honored that Universal has created 'Rockin''s first-ever video."

For those looking for the perfect soundtrack to get into the holiday spirit, UMe's Christmas playlist features some of the most popular songs and artists across the holiday music canon, pairing timeless classics with contemporary favorites. The hours-long –and ever-expanding – playlist is available now for streaming on Spotify and Apple.


1.Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree
2. Papa Noel
3. This Time Of The Year
4. Jingle Bell Rock
5. Christy Christmas
6. I'm Gonna Lasso Santa Claus
7. Winter Wonderland
8. Silver Bells
9. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town


1. The Angel and The Little Blue Bell
2. Frosty The Snowman
3. Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely Day
4. Blue Christmas
5. A Marshmallow World
6. Strawberry Snow
7. White Christmas
8. Jingle Bells
9. Silent Night


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