By Paul Ingrassia
(This story, first published in 2016, is an annual Christmas feature at the Revs Institute.)
NAPLES, Fla. — Now is the time of year for Christmas carols, of course. Or as we sometimes say here at The Revs Institute, Christmas CARols.
Over the years many classic Christmas carols have been recast with automotive themes. They include “LeRoy, the Redneck Reindeer,” “I’m Dreaming of a White T-bird” and “Silver Chrome.” So for this week’s Revs editorial feature, we’ll link to some songs that will put you in the mood for Christmas…and for cars.
- Country-music artist Joe Diffie included “Leroy the Redneck Reindeer” on his Mr. Christmas album, recorded in 1995. The tune is the same as “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer,” but the plot is, well, different. Leroy is Rudolph’s cousin from Nashville. When Rudolph gets sick on Christmas Eve, Leroy dashes up to the North Pole in his pickup truck.
Paul Ingrassia, editor at the Revs Institute, with Rudolph his Red-nosed Bimmer.
Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and the rest of the lot initially were skeptical (no surprise). “They never seen a deer in overalls,” says the song, “And a John Deere trucker hat.” But Leroy steps in for his ailing cousin, successfully navigates Santa’s sleigh and saves Christmas. Here is a link to the YouTube video of the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIdnYAkqSes
- A decade or so ago a California couple, Ron and Kelly Cherry, composed car lyrics for a whole host of Christmas carols. They recast the first line of one familiar carol thusly: “I’m dreaming of a white, T-Bird, just like the one I used to own.” And another well-known carol became: “I saw mommy racing Santa Claus.” Here’s a link to the lyrics of those revved-up classics, as it were, and a dozen others that the duo has dubbed “Hot-Rodded Christmas Songs.” http://bit.ly/2hGAX2T
- The Beach Boys recorded such classic automotive hymns as “Shut Down” and “Little Deuce Coupe.” In 1964 they also ventured into the Christmas CARol category with “Little Saint Nick.” A couple lines from the lyrics:
- She’s candy apple red with a ski for a wheel
- And when Santa hits the gas, man, just watch her peel.
And just watch and hear the song, right here on YouTube: http://bit.ly/1vU9754
- In 1987 Da Yoopers recorded an album called “Culture Shock,” on the You Guys label. Yoopers, of course, is a nickname for those hardy souls who live in Michigan’s frigid Upper Peninsula, aka the UP. The “Culture Shock” album included a song titled “Rusty Chevrolet,” which began — quite appropriately for the UP’s weather — with the lines:
- Dashing through the snow,
- In my Rusty Chevrolet
The song is sung to the tune of….well, you know. Here’s a link to a music video of “Rusty Chevrolet” on YouTube. http://bit.ly/1lCWY3C
- Around the same time, in 1988, Chris Rea released “Driving Home for Christmas, the Christmas EP.” The title song is a riff off the bittersweet ballad, “I’ll be Home for Christmas.” This link is to the song set in a scenic (in a UP context) music video on YouTube. http://bit.ly/1YrGBJ1
Greetings of the Season and, um, God-SPEED to all!
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Paul Ingrassia, editor at the Revs Institute in Naples, FL., is former managing editor of Reuters and former Detroit bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal. He has written about the auto industry for more than 30 years.