Most holiday songs are upbeat, happy tunes that fit a season filled with comfort and joy. But some of the best Christmas songs have a sad, though hopeful, note to them. (For the record, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas means so much more when you use the original lyric of "until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow.") And some Christmas songs aren't technically Christmas songs, but they've come to represent an important part of the holiday season. One of those songs is Hard Christmas Candy.
Hard Christmas Candy was written by Carol Hall for the musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, which opened on Broadway in 1978 and tells the story of a brothel in a little town in Texas. The film version of the musical was released in 1982 with country star Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds in the lead roles. The story isn't a Christmas story. In the musical, the song happens near the end as the brothel is closing and all the girls are leaving. Each of them sing lines from the song, while brothel owner Miss Mona, played by Dolly Parton, sings the chorus.
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
For the film's soundtrack, Parton recorded Hard Candy Christmas as a solo. The song was released as a single in October 1982 and country music stations played the song around the holiday season that year.
Parton performed the song on Bob Hope's Christmas Special in 1988, and it was also included on the reissue of her 1984 Christmas album with Kenny Rogers, Once Upon a Christmas.
Hard Candy Christmas has officially been adopted as a country Christmas song, with Reba McEntire recording a cover of the song for her album My Kind of Christmas and performing it live during the 2018 CMA Country Christmas special. June Carter Cash performed the song on the 1982 Johnny Cash Christmas special, and other Nashville stars like LeAnn Rimes have covered it as well. It's not only country stars that have recorded versions of the song; Cyndi Lauper covered it as a duet with Alison Krauss, and RuPaul has recorded it as well.
Celebrate with Christmas Hard Candy
So this holiday season, if your idea of a merry Christmas isn't one more rendition of All I Want for Christmas is You, give a slightly sad, but hopeful Hard Candy Christmas a try.