Early in the week I alluded to sharing a favorite classic as this week’s song. Plans changed. Earlier tonight I was at a committee meeting and was inspired to go with a different song by one of the attendees. A perennial player on the Christmas radio broadcasts is Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. I’m sure you had an immediate, strong reaction to that song choice. The tune is definitely a love it or hate it choice. It tops nearly all the “Most disliked Christmas songs” lists each year. Some radio stations have even removed it from their seasonal rotations. But some make it part of ringing in the season. Personally, I can’t stand it.
The song was penned by Randy Brooks in the late 70s. The singing duo know as Elmo & Patsy picked up the tune and recorded it for the first time in 1979. Since then it has been re-recorded many times by them and covered by many others (this surprised me!). The basics of thee song following the events of a snowy night when grandma has a little too much to drink. She has forgotten her medicine and wanders out into the snow where she is the victim of a hit and run. Turns out it was Santa and his sleigh who were responsible for the accident. Grandpa is also a little senile and doesn’t even realize she’s gone while the rest of the family mourns her passing. The song cautions the listener to watch out for Santa and that you should “watch out for a man who drives a sleigh and plays with elves”. The song did grow in popularity and many items were marketed around the song, including lunch boxes, ornaments, books, and even a television special. The TV special altered the story a little to make it more family friendly for the holidays. In the TV program, grandma doesn’t die and Santa wasn’t the guilty one. Turns out it was cousin Mel who orchestrated the whole plot! If you doubt this song’s impact- watch the ABC News piece from the 30th anniversary of the song in 2009. You should also listen in to the versions I uncovered:Elmo & Patsy– The original 1984 classic video. Remix– Interesting attempt at a hipper beat. Lego Animation– Story told in Legos of course. TV Special– The full-length television special. How to Video– In case you want to learn to play it on your own piano!