'Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer' is a novelty Christmas song written by Randy Brooks and sung by then husband and wife duo Elmo and Patsy Shropshire, they would divorce in 1985.
A Doctor In The House
Elmo Shropshire was born in 1936 in Lexington, Kentucky and has a Bachelors of Science in Agriculture from the University of Florida and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Auburn University in Alabama. He later returned back to his horse country roots and became racetrack veterinarian at Aqueduct and Belmont Park in New York before moving to San Francisco to op
en his own hospital, Arguello Pet Hospital. In San Francisco he started messing around with another Kentucky tradition by playing banjo in a Bluegrass band, and later became a competitive runner. In 1978, Dr. Elmo and his wife were playing a gig at Lake Tahoe during the show they invited fellow songwriter Randy Brooks who happened to be in attendance to sing a few tunes with them. Randy did a tune he had written, "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer". It was an instant hit with the couple who quickly recorded it and pressed it on their own record label.
Shropshire spent $500 to record it with his then-wife Patsy and shelled out an additional $700 to make 500 singles. The song got initial radio exposure when it was played by San Francisco disc jockey Don Nelson, and callers kept requesting it.
The next Christmas season, it garnered even more media attention when the Gray Panthers and "women's libbers" picketed outside Elmo and Patsy's concert in San Francisco.
The protestors said the song was denigrating to grannies across the country. Some women complained that grandpa appeared to be unconcerned about his wife's plight.
"There were picket signs that said 'What's so funny about a dead grandmother?' They said it was ageist and sexist and violent against women," Shropshire said. "They said 'We want you to stop singing this song.' At the time, it scared me to death."
Grandma Never Knew What Hit Her
Whether you hate the song or love it, you can't deny that it has become ingrained into the very fabric of Christmas traditions for millions of people world wide. In 2007, Edison Media Research and Pinnacle Media Worldwide both independently conducted a survey of radio listeners on which Christmas songs they like and dislike. In both surveys, the only song that reached the top of both liked and disliked lists was "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer." Its "loved" ratings in the Edison and Pinnacle polls were relatively high—47 and 32 percent, respectively—but so were the "hate" or "dislike" ratings—17 and 22 percent. The music video was released in the 1980s,
and aired on MTV for at least 18 years. The video could also be seen on VH1, CMT, TNN, GAC, and VH1 Classic during the holiday season, as well as on Spike's official website and YouTube. Elmo Shropshire played Grandpa and Grandma while Patsy played Cousin Mel. The cartoon special was released in 2000 became a staple of Cartoon Network's holiday programming and airs every holiday season on The CW. In the same year the song hit #42 on Billboard's US Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart. The song continues to be covered by numerous artists each year (see spotify playlist for a small selection of the covers).
OK, we're gonna stop this blog right here for a second. Sometimes when you're researching a topic you find something that stops you in your tracks. I decided to look into the history of Patsy from the famed duo. Just to see what she's been up to since the split. Well, shes still performing. In 2012 she wrote and released a Rap version of Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer. She starred in and released a video to go along with it. This was a follow up to her previous Christmas song 'It's a merry Christmas when pigs fly'
The Legend of Randy
Randy Brooks grew up in Kentucky with a passion for music, instilled by his father, a choir director. After graduating from Vanderbilt University, he moved to Dallas where he earned money as a songwriter. In 1979 he and his band found themselves stuck in town and decided to see Elmo and his band perform, where they would later be invited up to perform and ultimately change the sound of Christmas for ever. As Shropshire’s recording gained fame worldwide, Brooks continued writing songs and performing with other musicians. He took a day job with American Airlines that turned into a 30-year gig.
“I was the voice on the phone that said, ‘thank you for calling American Airlines customer service"
He has gone on record to say that the royalties from "Grandma Got Run Over by A Reindeer" put both of his kids through college.
In a 2012 interview with the Dallas Observer, Brooks spoke about his inspiration for the song
"It came from a Merle Haggard Christmas song I heard, called "Grandma's Christmas Card," and this was a song about a grandma who was an artist, and every year the family would await her Christmas card. This was a period in country music where the trend was to have a beloved relative die in the last verse. You know, two verses about how great they were, and then they're dead. And I thought that was where is song was going, and so that night I decided to write the song the way I thought Merle might write it."
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