Happy Holidays! Since it’s the first year of my blog, and since it’s the last year for my Annual Holiday Show on my little 20-year-old 80s radio program, STUCK IN THE 80s (on WMPG community radio in Portland, Maine), I wanted to present to you THE 31 DAYS OF 80s XMAS SONGS, or, 31 of my favorite 80s holiday musical treats.
We’re now two-thirds of the way through THE 31 DAYS OF 80s XMAS SONGS, and for Day 20, it’s another memorable Xmas gem from 1987’s A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS benefit album – “Christmas In Hollis” by Run-D.M.C.
When Run-D.M.C. was first approached by longtime New York music fixture (and their publicist), Bill Adler, to contribute to A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS, the Hollis, NYC Rap pioneers turned it down. As Darryl “DMC” McDaniels said in a 2013 A.V. CLUB interview, “Nope. We’re not doing it. That’s what they try to do to hip-hop. They commercialize you and try to make you corny. We’re totally against anything that’s going to be fake. If it ain’t beats and rhymes and DJ-ing and graffiti, we ain’t doin’ it! Here you go again with the corporate America powers that be and Hollywood trying to ruin hip-hop! We ain’t going out like that!”
Well, Bill Adler was persistent with the trio in contributing a song to A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS, and gave them the idea for “Christmas In Hollis.” Jam Master Jay was given a song to rework – “Back Door Santa” by Clarence Carter, from 1968. And rework he did. When Jay played it for DMC and Run, they loved it and worked on lyrics.
Run-D.M.C. initially thought the song would be considered no more than a novelty song, and thought it would be forgotten by the following Xmas. They had no idea the song would become a Rap / Hip-Hop classic.
“Christmas In Hollis” is a hometown holiday tribute, and, for whatever reason, it was a song that took many years to grow on me. Apparently, it was the same for BILLBOARD’s R&B / Hip Hop chart, as it reached No. 78 in 2000, 13 years after its release! It fared better in the U.K., reaching No. 56, and has appeared in films like DIE HARD and LESS THAN ZERO, and TV shows like CHUCK, BROOKLYN NINE-NINE, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, the U.S. version of THE OFFICE, and THE SIMPSONS.
I may have been late in celebrating “Christmas In Hollis,” but once I embraced it, you can bet I celebrate it every year…