Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer

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"Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer"
Picture sleeve of 1984 release by Epic Records (34-04703)
Single by Elmo & Patsy
from the album Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer
B-side"Christmas" (Elmo 'n' Patsy; Oink; Soundwaves)
"Percy, The Puny Poinsettia" (Epic)
Released1979 (Elmo 'n' Patsy)
1982 (Oink; Soundwaves)
1984 (Epic)
Format7-inch
Recorded1978
GenreChristmas, Country, Novelty, Pop
Length3:30 (Elmo 'n' Patsy; Oink; Soundwaves)
3:26 (Epic)
LabelElmo 'n' Patsy 2984
Oink 2984
Soundwaves 4658
Epic 34-04703
Writer(s)Randy Brooks
Producer(s)Gary Potterton
 
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"Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer"
Picture sleeve of 1984 release by Epic Records (34-04703)
Single by Elmo & Patsy
from the album Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer
B-side"Christmas" (Elmo 'n' Patsy; Oink; Soundwaves)
"Percy, The Puny Poinsettia" (Epic)
Released1979 (Elmo 'n' Patsy)
1982 (Oink; Soundwaves)
1984 (Epic)
Format7-inch
Recorded1978
GenreChristmas, Country, Novelty, Pop
Length3:30 (Elmo 'n' Patsy; Oink; Soundwaves)
3:26 (Epic)
LabelElmo 'n' Patsy 2984
Oink 2984
Soundwaves 4658
Epic 34-04703
Writer(s)Randy Brooks
Producer(s)Gary Potterton

"Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" is a novelty Christmas song.

Written by Randy Brooks, the song was originally performed by the husband-and-wife duo of Elmo and Patsy Trigg Shropshire in 1979. In the lyrics, a family matriarch gets drunk from drinking too much eggnog and, having forgotten to take her medicine and despite warnings from her family, staggers outside into a snowstorm. On her walk, she is trampled and killed by Santa Claus and his reindeer. The second and third verses describe the next day's Christmas gathering: "all the family's dressed in black" while the widower acts as if nothing's happened, drinks beer, watches football and plays "cards with cousin Mel." The song closes with a warning that Santa, "a man who drives a sleigh and plays with elves" is unfit to carry a driver's license, and that the listener should beware.

Releases[edit]

According to Brooks, he played the song while sitting in with Elmo and Patsy at the Hyatt Lake Tahoe in December 1978, and after the show they had him make a cassette of the song for them to learn. A year later, they were selling 45s of the song from the stage, with Elmo himself appearing in drag on the album cover as Grandma.

The song was originally self-released in the San Francisco area by the Shropshires in 1979 on their own record label (on "Elmo 'n' Patsy" #2984), with the B-side titled "Christmas". Initial copies appeared on a cream-colored label, with a sketch of a pig clearly visible, at left. Once initial copies had sold out, later-pressed #2984 cream-colored 45 label copies retained the same pig sketch, but decided to both move the sketch, and add the word "Oink", to the top of the 45's label. Meanwhile, the duo's names were moved to the bottom of the label, below the song title. By the early 1980s, the song was becoming a seasonal hit, first on country stations and then on Top 40 stations. Oink Records, still based in Windsor, California, continued distribution of the 45 rpm record in the western U.S., with "Nationwide Sound Distributors" (NSD) of Nashville, Tennessee pressing and distributing the song on its Soundwaves Records in the eastern U.S., peaking at #92 on the country singles charts. In 1982, the duo both re-recorded and re-released the song as a single, again as Oink #2984. But this time, Oink chose to handle all nationwide product distribution themselves, ending the old NSD-Soundwaves agreement. Re-recorded Oink #2984 45 copies appeared on a white label, not a cream-colored label, however. That is the easiest way (aside from listening to the 45 itself) to differentiate between the original, 1979 Oink #2984 recording and its now-much-more familiar, 1982 re-recording. An entire LP, named after their hit song, was also recorded in 1982, and was initially released as Oink #8223. In 1984, with the song now a big hit nationally, CBS Records was interested in re-issuing both the 1982 Oink 45 re-recording, and the 1982 Oink LP. Soon after, Epic Records acquired the rights to both, from Elmo and Patsy. The Epic #04703 45 opted to replace the Oink 45's B-side, "Christmas", with a track from the LP, ("Percy, the Puny Poinsettia"). Epic's 1984 re-release of the 1982 Oink LP was a straight re-issue, on Epic #39931. By the end of 1984, it was reported that sales of "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" were, by record label: Oink: 50,000 45s sold; Soundwaves: 175,000 45s sold; Epic: 150,000 45s sold and 90,000 LPs sold. The Epic Records version charted at #64 on the country charts in 1998 and #48 in 1999.

Other releases by the original artist(s) would follow:

A sequel, "Grandpa's Gonna Sue the Pants Off of Santa," was released by Elmo Shropshire on his album, Dr. Elmo's Twisted Christmas (1992). Grandpa gets lawyers to fight Santa in court.

Covers[edit]

The song has been recorded by other acts.

Parodies[edit]

Z100 Portland Morning Zoo made a New Kids on the Block-bashing parody of the song for Christmas 1989, entitled, "New Kids Got Run Over by a Reindeer".

A parody "Grandpa Got Run Over by a Beer Truck" was released by Da Yoopers in 1993. Radio personality Bob Rivers recorded a his own parody titled "Osama Got Run Over by a Reindeer" and "Grandma Got Molested at the Airport" by Danny Aldridge. Grandma Got Molested at the Airport on YouTube

Cledus T. Judd in 1996 released a parody called "Grandpa Got Ran Over by a John Deere" as a sequel to "Grandma Got Ran Over by a Reindeer" and as well did a cover of the song in 2002.

Popularity[edit]

Edison Media Research and Pinnacle Media Worldwide independently survey radio listeners on which Christmas songs they like and dislike. In both surveys, results of which were reported in 2007, the only song that reached the top of both liked and disliked lists was "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer."[3] 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.

A major Washington, D.C. radio station, WASH (97.1 FM), dropped the song from its playlist. "It was too polarizing," says Bill Hess, program director. "It wasn't strong, except with a few people, and it had a lot of negatives."[3]

Shropshire claims it is "a beloved holiday favorite." The video of the song was "a holiday staple on MTV for many seasons." It has been "incorporated into talking toys and a musical greeting card." "My royalties are four or five times what they were" 20 years ago, claims Elmo, who performs the song with his bluegrass group year-round. "A lot of younger people say it's not really Christmas until they hear it."[3]

Television[edit]

The 2000 animated television program Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer portrays the events depicted in the song; though made for children, the cartoon is toned down a bit, so that Grandma survives. Moreover, Santa is actually innocent of the crime, which was instead masterminded by scheming relative Cousin Mel, who is mentioned briefly in the song but made into a gold-digging villainness in the special. Elmo Shropshire narrates the special and voices Grandpa. The special is a staple of Cartoon Network's holiday programming.

Music video[edit]

The promotional music video for Elmo & Patsy's "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" was released in the mid-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 being on Spike's official website and on YouTube. Elmo Shropshire played Grandpa and Patsy played Cousin Mel.

References[edit]

  1. ^ RPM Album Charts (Dec 1982). "Adult Contemporary - Volume 37, No. 19, December 25, 1982". Archives Canada. 
  2. ^ Anningston, Brett (Feb 25, 2010). "After four decades, group still loves to entertain". Times & Transcript. 
  3. ^ a b c Farhi, Paul (December 14, 2007). "All I Want for Christmas Is Not To Hear That Song". The Washington Post. 

External links[edit]