Back in 1982, Dolly Parton released “Hard Candy Christmas” as part of the soundtrack to The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. And while the top 10 single is often thought of as one of the genre’s classic Christmas songs, Dolly says that strictly speaking, it’s not a holiday tune at all.
“It’s kind of funny that people think it’s a Christmas song, and it’s really not,” the singer reveals to ABC Audio. “It’s really just about people having hard times and saying, ‘It’s like a hard candy Christmas,’ like when you’re so poor that all you get for Christmas is a piece of hard candy.”
Still, Dolly says that it makes a good seasonal song, too, and plenty of other country stars agree with her. June Carter Cash, Reba McEntire, Cyndi Lauper, LeAnn Rimes and, most recently, newcomer Kassi Ashton have all recorded or performed their own versions of “Hard Candy Christmas.”
The song’s not included on A Holly Dolly Christmas, Dolly’s latest holiday album, but many other classics are, including a duet version of Mariah Carey's “All I Want for Christmas is You” with late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon.
Dolly got the idea for the duet after being impressed with Jimmy’s singing on his show. But when she suggested the collaboration, he had his doubts.
“He said, ‘I’m not a real singer.’ I said, ‘Well, I think you are,’” Dolly recalls. “He said, ‘I’ll sing it if you promise me you won’t use it if I don’t sing good.’ I said, ‘That’s a promise.’ And he did sing it good!”
A Holly Dolly Christmas came out in early October.
By Carena Liptak and Stephen Hubbard
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