Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas....

This song was written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blaine for the 1944 movie, Meet Me In St. Louis.  The film stars Judy Garland as one of the daughters of a family getting ready to move out of St. Louis just as the 1904 World's Fair is coming to town. The authors were told to write a song that was *not* overly celebratory. According to Hugh Martin's book, The Boy Next Door, one original lyric went as follows,
"Have yourself a merry little Christmas / It may be your last/ Next year we may all be living in the past / Have yourself a merry little Christmas / Pop that champagne cork / Next year we may all be living in New York."
However, according to Martin, Judy Garland, her co-star Tom Drake, and the director, Vincente Minnelli, all objected to such depressing lyrics. Martin eventually did change these lines, changing "It may be your last / Next year we may all be living in the past" to "Let your heart be light / Next year all our troubles will be out of sight".

In 1957 Frank Sinatra recorded his Christmas album, A Jolly Christmas. He asked Martin to change "Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow." Martin changed it to "Hang a shining star upon the highest bough." Since then, most versions you hear include this lyric instead of the original.

However, I'm a fan of the original, so-called "darker" version. I haven't put much emphasis on Christmas being this ultimate day of happiness since I was a kid. It is a wonderful time of the year, sure, but it isn't the be-all and end-all of everything. As I got older, I began to appreciate the season and not The Day. Specifically, as I have gotten older and seen my loved ones spread out around the world, I truly appreciate the "we have to muddle through somehow" sentiment. This touches me more than a lyric about putting another shiny ornament on a tree does. This year, especially, this sentiment hits close to home.

So here's Judy Garland singing the original, from Meet Me In St. Louis, directed by her soon-to-be husband, Vincente Minnelli.
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, everybody.

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