Thursday, December 18, 2008

Have Yourself a Merry Little Re-write

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is one of my favorite holiday tunes. The tune has been covered by hundreds of artists -- from John Denver to Twisted Sister. And the back story appeals to the songwriter in me.

Written by Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin in 1943 for the film Meet Me in St. Louis, the original lyrics were dark, dreary -- featuring lines like:

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
This may be your last

Writer Martin was asked by the producers to lighten it up a bit -- yes, the song was supposed to be sad, but not THAT sad. So he rewrote the lyrics. He re-wrote them again for Frank Sinatra in 1957, because Sinatra objected to this line:

Until then, we'll have to muddle through, somehow

So Martin replaced it with:

Hang a shining star upon the highest bough

For what it's worth, I prefer the "muddle through" line. Maybe it's working in retail at Christmastime - but that phrase seems gently and refreshingly honest.

You can read more on the back story at Entertainment Weekly. And enjoy my favorite version of the song (nobody does sad like Margaret O'brien) right here:

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