Tag Archives: Run-D.M.C.

12 days of Christmas, Day 11

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” was on the other night. Mariah Carey and her mom had their Christmas special, too. “Scrooged” has been on. “Miracle on 34th Street” — the good one, from 1947 — is coming up.

They even screened “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol” in Santa Monica, California, today. (Did you know that when it aired on NBC in 1962, it was the first animated Christmas special?) That was one of my favorites. Kinda scary in places, but still one of my favorites.

I wonder whether they’re showing some of my favorites from another time.

Gather around the hearth, kids, and hear how MTV once aired Christmas videos. It was the early ’80s, and MTV seemed so cutting-edge at the time. Those old videos seem so quaint and innocent now. Our 15-year-old son would take one look at them, roll his eyes and say, “That’s so corny!”

Absolutely. And it wouldn’t be Christmas without them.

Take 1:

“Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You,” Billy Squier, 1981, from “A Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas,” 1995.

Squier lip-syncs it with the MTV VJs and crew on the video. A good memory from that time. It revives the age-old debate: Nina Blackwood or Martha Quinn?

Take 2:

“Rock & Roll Christmas,” George Thorogood and the Destroyers, 1983, from “A Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas,” 1985.

This once rocked the house at MTV. Mark Goodman gets a nice long smooch from a cutie under the mistletoe at 1:55!

(Is that really John Lee Hooker as Santa Claus? My friend Larry says: “I think that may in fact be Hooker as Santa” and points to the photos of Thorogood and Hooker taken by Bob Leafe at an MTV taping in 1984. “I’d love to know for sure,” Larry says. So would I. Ah, those little mysteries.)

Take 3:

“Run Rudolph Run,” Dave Edmunds, 1982, from “A Different Kind of Christmas,” 1994. The CD is out of print but the song is available digitally.

This is from the MTV New Year’s Eve Rock ‘n’ Roll Ball, so Happy New Year 1987, everyone in the Central time zone!

And some others seen on MTV …

Take 4:

“2000 Miles,” the Pretenders, from “Learning to Crawl,” 1983.

Talk about playing a guitar like ringing a bell, quietly, gracefully. A modern Christmas classic about a loved one gone at Christmas. That it came from an album with so many other great, straight-up rock songs — this was the flip side to “Middle of the Road” — makes it all the more remarkable.

Take 5:

“Do They Know It’s Christmas (single edit),” Band Aid, 1985, from the 12-inch single. It’s out of print but is available on “Now That’s What I Call Christmas!” 2001.

Before “We Are The World,” there was this. In 1984, everyone who was anyone on the UK music scene came together as Band Aid to sing “Do They Know It’s Christmas.” Bob Geldof wrote the words. Midge Ure wrote the music. The song, which benefited hunger relief in Ethiopia, was huge — a solid No. 1 in Britain and close to it in the States.

So, how many of those performers you can name?

Take 6:

“Christmas In Hollis,” Run-D.M.C., from “A Very Special Christmas,” 1987.

This one, as always, is for Doug.

Bonus video!

Grace Jones sings “The Little Drummer Boy” on Pee-Wee Herman’s 1988 Christmas special!


And now, a word from our sponsor.

It may just be a Midwestern thing, but this used to be a familiar sight at this time of year. It debuted in 1977; this clip is dated 1981.

A friend who once worked at Miller Brewing in Milwaukee told us people so loved this commercial that they’d start calling the brewery in November to try to find out when it was going to air.


Filed under Christmas music, December 2010

Three under the tree, Vol. 42

Watching that old George Thorogood video last night, it struck me how cutting-edge MTV seemed at the time and how quaint and innocent those old videos seem now.

It sure would be nice to sit down with our 14-year-old son and watch something like that now.

Of course, he’d roll his eyes and say, “Dad! That’s so corny!”

Absolutely. And it wouldn’t be Christmas without it.

Take 1:

“Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You,” Billy Squier, 1981, from “A Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas,” 1995.

Here’s a little behind-the-scenes bonus: Bob Leafe was taking photos on the set when Billy Squier and Co. shot that video in the MTV studios. He shares some memories and photos.

Take 2:

“Do They Know It’s Christmas (single edit),” Band Aid, 1985, from the 12-inch single. It’s out of print but is available on “Now That’s What I Call Christmas!” 2001.

Take 3:

“Christmas In Hollis,” Run-D.M.C., from “A Very Special Christmas,” 1987. (This one is for Doug.)


Filed under December 2009, Sounds

Three under the tree, Day 19

By now, you may be getting weary of all the familiar Christmas songs. Time, then, to explore three originals left under the tree tonight. You’ll quickly see that may be all they have in common.

First, let’s fulfill a request from my old pal Doug, who just about knocked me off my chair when he wrote the other day to ask for this, his “top Christmas song of all time.” I dig it. I had no idea Doug did.


“Christmas in Hollis,” Run-D.M.C., from “A Very Special Christmas,” 1987.

Direct from Hollis, Queens, to the frozen hinterlands of Wisconsin, just for you, my man. Written by Joseph Simmons (Rev. Run) and Darryl McDaniels (D.M.C.) and produced by Rick Rubin and Steve Ett.

Oh, yes, and the video, too.

Our next song comes from another pair of native New Yorkers. From the artists formerly known as Sidney Liebowitz of Brooklyn and Edith Gormezano of the Bronx …


“That Holiday Feeling,” Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, from “That Holiday Feeling!” 1964.

I bought this record on a whim right after Christmas last year. I didn’t put it on the turntable until last month. It’s terrific, a bubbly, sophisticated slice of the seemingly lost art of the pop duet. I saw Steve and Eydie so many times on TV in the ’60s and ’70s, watching with my dad, that they’re like members of the family. This is my favorite record and my favorite song this year.

Dig this sassy, sexy duet written by Bill and Patty Jacob, orchestrated by Don Guercio and arranged by the great Don Costa:

“On New Year’s Eve at 12 o’clock we’ll stop to kiss
And while the whole world will be whistleblowing
We will still be mistletoeing
You think you’re such a smartie
Come on, let’s have a party
I know what’s running through your mind
This is the season to be kind.”

What comes after old-school hip-hop and classic nightclub pop? Roadhouse rock from Oklahoma, of course!


“Jingle My Bells,” the Tractors, from “Have Yourself A Tractors Christmas,” 1995.

The Tractors got relegated to the country bins when they hit the scene in the mid-’90s, and unfairly so. There’s a fair amount of swing, a dash of rock (perhaps a dash of riprock?) and a laid-back vibe a mile wide. They have more in common with Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen than with Asleep at the Wheel, I’d say.

“Jingle My Bells” is one of eight originals on this fine Christmas record. It’s written by keyboard player Walt Richmond, and that’s him on the Wurlitzer electric and Steinway pianos. It almost feels as if guitarist/singer Steve Ripley and Richmond have a little Chuck Berry-Johnnie Johnson thing going on. Ripley’s liner notes say they were almost done with the album when Richmond came up with this one. Richmond explains:

“I woke up singing this song. Got up. Wrote it down. It was a gift.”

And now it’s a gift for you.

1 Comment

Filed under Christmas music, December 2008, Sounds

Another night, another show

I’m on vacation this week because we’re seeing three shows in six days.

Monday night was Dionne Warwick.

Last night was Kid Rock with Peter Wolf and Rev. Run. (Hey, if you’ve been reading this for a while, you know I have fairly eclectic tastes.)

I’d heard Kid Rock’s shows were terrific, but I had no idea. Man! You really must go see him. It was one of the most energetic, most entertaining shows I’ve seen in a long time, and I am not all that much of a Kid Rock fan. I have none of his albums and only a couple of his tunes.

Here’s what our paper’s entertainment writer had to say:

“He was all over the musical map, not to mention at the turntables, behind the drums and on guitar, for a sweaty, swaggering show that seamlessly mashed honky-tonk, rap, Southern rock, Motown, gospel, country, metal, soul and just about anything else he and his 10-piece motley-looking Twisted Brown Trucker Band could think to spit out. Not everyone can pull off Sunday school staple ‘This Little Light of Mine,’ Buffalo Springfield’s ‘For What It’s Worth’ and new track ‘So Hott’ — within 10 minutes of one another, without straining something.”

Amen, sister. And amen to you, Brother Rock.

The Kid and the Rev blew the roof off the place. The Rev announced: “We’re going old school — 1983!” Then they tore through “It’s Tricky,” “You Be Illin'” and, of course, “Walk This Way.” Never mind that it was more 1986 than 1983. The Rev — Joseph Simmons — can still bring it.

When I went to watch the Packers practice today (hey, I am on vacation), I pulled up next to the photographer who shot last night’s show for the paper. He was bummed that he couldn’t stay around for the whole show.

He asked me whether it was one of the best shows I’d seen. Oh, yeah, and I’ll add this: Kid Rock and Rev. Run instantly became of my top five concert moments ever.

Now my problem is which song to serve up. I got out my vinyl copy of “Raising Hell” and gave it another listen. The only tune from that album that comes even remotely close to conveying what last night was like is one you’ve heard a million times.

Your forgiveness, please, for a million and one.

“Walk This Way,” Run-D.M.C. with Joe Perry and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, from “Raising Hell,” 1986. The original. The groundbreaker. The classic. Perry and Tyler aren’t too bad on this one, either.

Leave a comment

Filed under May 2008, Sounds