Today’s Christmas song is ‘Rocking Around The Christmas Tree’. This Christmas song was written by Johnny Marks and was recorded by Brenda Lee in 1958. It has since been recorded by numerous other music artists. By the song's 50th anniversary in 2008, Lee's original version had sold over 25 million copies with the 4th most digital downloads sold of any Christmas single.
Because of her mature-sounding voice, Lee recorded this song when she was only thirteen years old. Although Decca released the single in both 1958 and again in 1959, it did not sell well until Brenda Lee became a popular star in 1960. That Christmas holiday season, Lee's ‘Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree’ appeared on the ‘Billboard Hot 100’ chart for the first time, eventually peaking at Number 14. It continued to sell well during subsequent holiday seasons, peaking as high as Number 3 on ‘Billboard’s Christmas Singles’ chart in December 1965. Lee's 1958 recording still receives a great deal of airplay. It has since turned into a perennial holiday favourite, and due to rule changes in 2014 has returned annually to the ‘Billboard Hot 100’ chart, reaching an all-time chart peak of Number 3 during the 2019 holiday season.
I was 15 years old when Brenda Lee released this record and it had been a long time since I’d been able to rock to any tune. Just before my 12th birthday, a serious accident left me with several life-threatening injuries; the worst of which proved to be a damaged spine and badly mangled legs. A wagon had knocked me down, run over me and stopped on top of me. It took over 40mkinutes for my body to be pulled out as my torso had been twisted around the main drive shaft of the vehicle.
I was on the critical list for around three weeks and because of my damaged spine, my parents were informed that I’d never be able to walk again. Three years later, I was up and hobbling around. I could neither bend nor straighten one of my legs to 100 degrees after having had over fifty operations on it and my left leg was now three inches shorter than my right leg.
As soon as I’d got my legs back, I was determined that they’d eventually take me dancing again. I’d always loved dancing and singing and the rock and roll era was at its height. Bopping was the new dancing craze, and this was ideal for a young man with legs of unequal length. Bopping allowed one to individualise their dancing moves in a way that the traditional formality of old-time and modern dancing never did.
When I finally made it back to Cleckheaton Town Hall for its Saturday night rock and roll dance, one of the first dances we rocked to was Brenda Lee’s new release, ‘Rocking Around the Christmas Tree’. Life had re-commenced for this romantic teenager who was determined to dance the night away and to steal the heart of every good-looking young woman between Cleckheaton and Heckmondwike off their feet with my bopping prowess.
Sheila and I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Love and peace Bill xxx