Having a child away at college this year--and knowing others will soon be following him--makes this song very poignant. "Through the years we all be together if the fates allow..." That tugs at this father's heartstrings. In fact, I have yet to hear this song this year without getting a bit teary.
The history of the song is sort of interesting--a great window into the way that collaboration shapes final products of movies and plays and songs.
The song was written for the 1944 movie, Meet Me in St. Louis--starring Judy Garland, directed by Vincente Minnelli.
In the movie, the Smith family is scheduled to move to New York right after Christmas and are all pretty blue about it--their daughters especially so. When the youngest daughter gets extremely distressed, her sister sings this song to her.
The original lyrics as written by Hugh Martin (Ralph Blane wrote the music) were:
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 will all be living in New York.
No good times like the olden days, happy golden days of yore,
Faithful friends who were dear to us, will be near to us no more.
But at least we all will be together, if the Fates allow,
From now on we'll have to muddle through somehow.
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.
However, when they saw the lyrics, Garland and Minnelli and another cast member objected, saying they were too depressing. So, the lyrics were rewritten to reflect what you hear on this recording. They were tweaked again later when Frank Sinatra recorded his version. He changed the two lines in the last verse to, "Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow. Hang a shining star upon the highest bough..." (wow, tearing up again!)The song's emotional, sentimental tone made it a great hit with troops during WWII, with Garland's rendition reportedly bringing tears to many. (Source: Wikipedia)
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