American singer-songwriter Dolly Parton poses for a portrait in front of a Christmas Tree circa 1992 in Lake Tahoe, California.
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'Hard Candy Christmas': The Story Behind a Broadway Tune Turned Dolly Parton Classic


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"Hard Candy Christmas" followed an unlikely route to the holiday country song canon. An original by songwriter Carol Hall, it became popular in the Broadway musical The Best Little Whorehouse In TexasIn the film adaptation of the musical, Dolly Parton plays Miss Mona and is featured as a solo singer on the song's refrains. Parton released her version of the song in 1982, peaking at No. 8 on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1983. While its lyrics aren't exactly about Christmas, Parton and Kenny Rogers added a version to their 1984 album Once Upon A Christmas. Parton also performed the song on Bob Hope's Christmas Special in 1988, further weaving it into that decade's cultural fabric.

Hard candy can be anything from candy canes and rock candy to lollipops, peppermints, off-brand Lifesavers or any inexpensive sweet treat. The title "Hard Candy Christmas" refers back to a time when families who could not afford much gifted their children with Christmas candy. Of course, in the song, holiday candy as stocking stuffers is used as a metaphor that reminds us that life, while often difficult, can also be sweet.

Parton famously was raised poor, making the song speak to her own experiences of appreciating whatever her family could afford to wrap and place beneath the Christmas tree.

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"Momma would always tell Christmas stories, read the Bible, then we'd go out to the barn and they would tell us that at midnight the cattle would kneel, like in honor. But we never could stay awake long enough to see it. We could never see that happe," she said (as quoted in 2021 by Whiskey Riff). "But we always had a little something.... It didn't matter what we got... It was great for us."

Many artists have added it to their Christmas music repertoires, from RuPaul and Cyndi Lauper to LeAnn Rimes and Reba McEntire.

More recently, Parton added to her catalog of country music Christmas songs with the 2020 Ultimate Deluxe Edition of A Holly Dolly Christmas.

READ MORE: 10 Holiday Season Classics by Alan Jackson and Other Country Greats

This story originally ran on Dec. 14, 2021.

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"Hard Candy Christmas" Lyrics

Hey, maybe I'll dye my hair
Maybe I'll move somewhere
Maybe I'll get a car
Maybe I'll drive so far they'll all lose track
Me, I'll bounce right back

Maybe I'll sleep real late
Maybe I'll lose some weight
Maybe I'll clear my junk
Maybe I'll just get drunk on apple wine
Me, I'll be just

Fine and dandy
Lord, it's like a hard candy Christmas
I'm barely getting through tomorrow
But still I won't let
Sorrow bring me way down

I'll be fine and dandy
Lord, it's like a hard candy Christmas
I'm barely getting through tomorrow
But still I won't let
Sorrow bring me way down

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Hey, maybe I'll learn to sew
Maybe I'll just lie low
Maybe I'll hit the bars
Maybe I'll count the stars until dawn
Me, I will go on

Maybe I'll settle down
Maybe I'll just leave town
Maybe I'll have some fun
Maybe I'll meet someone and make him mine
Me, I'll be just

Fine and dandy
Lord, it's like a hard candy Christmas
I'm barely getting through tomorrow
But still I won't let
Sorrow bring me way down

I'll be fine and dandy
Lord, it's like a hard candy Christmas
I'm barely getting through tomorrow
But still I won't let
Sorrow bring me way down

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I'll be fine and dandy
Lord, it's like a hard candy Christmas
I'm barely getting through tomorrow
But still I won't let
Sorrow bring me way down

'Cause I'll be fine
I'll be fine
Oh, I'll be fine

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