Words & Music: Johnny Marks (1949)

Lyrics

Verse
You know Dasher and Dancer
And Prancer and Vixen,
Comet and Cupid
And Donner and Blitzen.
But do you recall
The most famous reindeer of all?

Chorus
Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer
Had a very shiny nose,
And if you ever saw it
You would even say it glows.

All of the other reindeer
Used to laugh and call him names,
They never let poor Rudolph
Join in any reindeer games.

Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say,
“Rudolph with your nose so bright
Won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”

Then all the reindeer loved him
And they shouted out with glee,
“Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer
You’ll go down in history!”

Background

“Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” was based on a poem by the same name, written by Marks’s brother-in-law, Robert L. May, Rudolph’s creator. May wrote it for the retailer Montgomery Ward, and had considered naming the reindeer “Rollo” and “Reginald” before deciding upon using the name “Rudolph.” Although Marks was Jewish, he specialized in Christmas songs and wrote many standards.

Performances

Here is a recording from 1949 by Gene Autry:

Here is a swinging version of “Rudy” by Dean Martin: