With a preternaturally mature voice that could effortlessly swing between rock n' roll and country, Brenda Lee was one of the biggest hitmakers of the late '50s and '60s. And while smashes like "I'm Sorry" and "Sweet Nothin's" endure as all-time classics, there's one Lee song that remains inescapable each year as the air gets colder and the fireplace gets warmer – "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," which the vocal legend put on wax when she was just 13.
The seasonal offering first entered the Billboard Hot 100 on the chart dated Dec. 12, 1960 and enjoyed a huge boost in public interest when it was prominently featured in the 1990 holiday flick Home Alone. This year, "Rockin'" reaches its highest position yet: No. 3 on the Hot 100, completing the longest climb ever -- 59 years and nine days -- to the region from a song's chart debut.
Even at 75, Lee says hearing her adolescent voice every December as the soundtrack to the season remains a peculiar experience. "It's crazy to be shopping in a department store and hearing yourself sing at the same time. It's pretty surreal," she says. Not that she's complaining: "It's just been a wonderful, wonderful gift," Lee says of the Johnny Marks composition.