Monday, December 24, 2007
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" was first performed by Judy Garland in the 1944 movie Meet Me in St. Louis, Vincent Minnelli's musical tribute to history's only Browns-Cardinals World Series, which took place that year. As it was first written, the song was extremely dark: It opened up "Have yourself a merry little Christmas/It may be your last/Next year we may all be living in the past." Garland asked the writer, Hugh Martin, to make it a little less dystopian, but Garland's version, which was a hit for Christmas 1944, still reflected the realities of a nation at war: "Someday soon we all will be together/If the fates allow/Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow."
Frank Sinatra wanted to record "Have Yourself" for his 1957 album A Jolly Christmas, and he asked Martin to jolly up the song even further. So the lines about muddling through became "Through the years we all will be together/If the fates allow/Hang a shining star upon the highest bough." The Chairman also changed Judy's "Next year all our troubles will be out of sight" to "From now on our troubles will be out of sight."
James Taylor recorded the version using the second set of lyrics, the ones Garland used in Meet Me in St. Louis, when he cut the song in 2001. Shortly thereafter, September 11 cast the nation into a somber mood, and Taylor's reading took on a resonance of its own.
No matter what state you find yourself in, whether your Christmas will be mostly merry or mostly little, all of us here at OPC hope you have yourself a merry little Christmas now. Right now!