The BMI Holiday Countdown

Hall-decking, bell-jingling, holiday hysteria is upon us, and joining the party is so much more fun than grinching out on the sidelines. So count us in. Here at BMI, we’re sharing eight of our favorite holiday songs – check back every Tuesday and Thursday on until December 22, the week before Christmas.

Posted in MusicWorld on December 15, 2011 by

James Brown, “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto


With its tightly intertwined rhythms, percussive horns and traditional jump-blues bridge, “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto” catches the incomparable James Brown during a period of transition—moving from the hard-hitting soul of 1965’s “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” and “I Got You (I Feel Good)” to the stripped down and politically aware funk vamps “Give It Up or Turn It Loose” in 1968 and “I Don’t Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing (Open Up the Door, I’ll Get It Myself)” from 1969. More…

Buck Owens, “Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy”
Written by Buck Owens and Don Rich


Buck Owens was a young truck driver the first time he passed through Bakersfield—a flat, hardscrabble stretch of central California whose musical identity he’d soon shape. Inspired by the heartfelt honky-tonk of Wynn Stewart and the double Texas fiddles of Bob Wills, Owens developed a type of country music that was as far from Nashville musically as it was geographically. More…

Darlene Love, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”
Written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector


In the early 1960s, Brooklyn natives Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich were barely in their early twenties when they started writing songs for American teenagers. The two started hanging around the Brill Building independently of one another, learning from and writing songs with rock-and-roll founding fathers Mike Leiber and Jerry Stoller and others. More…

Mariah Carey, “All I Want for Christmas is You”


In the early 1990s, Mariah Carey was already well on her way to becoming the best-selling artist of the decade. With her powerful 5-octave vocal range and the finesse with which she scaled it, she was revered primarily as a singer and performer – not as a songwriter. But beginning with her career-launching debut album in 1990, Carey has co-written many of the songs that made her a superstar, including “Always Be My Baby,” “Hero,” “Vision of Love,” “One Sweet Day,” “I Don’t Want to Cry,” and “Dreamlover.” More…

Clarence Carter, “Back Door Santa”
Written by Clarence Carter and Marcus Daniel


A slice of greasy blues soul that draws from the Willie Dixon classic “Back Door Man,” Clarence Carter’s “Back Door Santa,” co-written with Marcus Daniel for the 1968 compilation Soul Christmas, adds a touch of raunch to the holiday celebrations. “I ain’t like old Saint Nick,” Carter barks over a bleating horn section and chopping funk guitar, “he don’t come but once a year. I come runnin’ with my presents every time you call me dear.” More…

Run-D.M.C., “Christmas in Hollis”
Written by Joseph “Run” Simmons, Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels and DJ Jason “Jam-Master Jay” Mizell


By 1987, the year Run-D.M.C. released the single “Christmas in Hollis” on two different holiday compilations, they were undeniably superstars—with gold records, multi-million dollar endorsements, and even a Live Aid appearance to their credit. But rap—the music they performed, championed and for many, represented—and hip-hop—the frenetic, kinetic culture comprising rap, break dancing and graffiti that had exploded out of New York City over the past decade and was rapidly spreading—still seemed to peer in from the edges onto a popular culture that regarded it with suspicion, condescension or outright dismissal. To mainstream America, Run-D.M.C. were the iconic musical representatives of an unfathomable youth culture that many perceived as dangerous and disconcerting. You know, like Elvis. More…

Vince Guaraldi Trio, “Christmas Time is Here”
Composed by Vince Guaraldi and Lee Mendelson

photo Vince Guaraldi

In its original, exquisite, instrumental form, the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s “Christmas Time is Here” communicates with an emotional language that transcends words. What began as a groovy theme for a children’s classic has become a holiday staple known and loved by everyone, everywhere – an intrinsically personal but universally shared connection to time and place and memory that could only have been crafted by a uniquely brilliant composer. More…

John Lennon, “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

photo Yoko Ono and John Lennon

The BMI holiday countdown concludes with John Lennon’s delicate, defiant “Happy Xmas (War Is Over).” Released in December 1971, as Vietnam’s kaleidoscope of violence refracted the horrors of war around the world, the song delivers a softly sung and deeply moving message of hope, peace and humanity. More…


The Weekly

Each week, Learn, Listen, Watch, Discover and Share with BMI! From must-see videos, to creative inspiration and dynamic playlists we’re excited about, BMI’s The Weekly is dedicated to delivering specially curated content designed for music creators and music fans alike!

Join BMI Live

BMI Live
Back to Top