Monday, December 15, 2014

Music Monday ~ Evolution of A Merry Little.....

Christmas songs or seasonally-flavoured music begin to get old quickly when radio, TV, internet start pushing them through our ears even before the dishes from Thanksgiving are washed and dried. It is mid- December now, maybe I can safely mention one well-known Christmas-time ditty - I discovered a new fact about it this time around.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - yeah - that one!

Most people older than, say 45, will know the song originated in a 1944 movie starring Judy Garland: Meet Me in St Louis. The song was written by Hugh Martin and (possibly) Ralph Blane. The version written for the movie, to fit the film's storyline, was never used, it was thought by Judy Garland to be too depressing; it was, take a look!

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
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 Lord allows
From now on, we'll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

Judy Garland felt the lyrics were too dismal for the scene in which it was to be used - she was to sing the song to a little girl (played by Margaret O'Brien).

Hugh Martin obliged with some alternative words:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
Next year all our troubles will be out of sight
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the yuletide gay
Next year all our troubles will be miles away
Once again as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who were dear to us
Will be near to us once more
Someday soon we all will be together
If the fates allow
Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

Even that much uplift wasn't enough for Frank Sinatra's Sagittarian soul though, when he came to record the song. He didn't even want to "muddle through somehow", so had the line adjusted to

Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.

Awww Frank!

Among the many old and newer recordings you'll come across both adjusted versions, and maybe the odd hybrid.

That's not the end of the story. Hugh Martin later on, after moving from New York to Hollywood, had difficulties which led him to "get religion". He wrote a version of his song reflecting this - lyrics to Have Yourself A Blessed Little Christmas are HERE.

The song, with its varied lyrics, will be done to death between now
and December 25th, so it's nice to listen to a really good instrumental version for a change. Here's the best one I've found: Grover Washington.


Sonny G said...

I like the Frank Sinatra version and hearing it sung by him.. Thats the one that brings sweet memories for me.

Annie, are the Christmas Carols the same in England as they are in America?

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ Frank can do no wrong, his version of anything is always the definitive for me! :-)

Christmas carols...hmmm. Most of the best known are the same. I've noticed a few with the same words but different tunes, but then that can happen in the UK too.

mike said...

The Grover Washington version is nice, but too much like elevator music or the "on hold" telephone music. Instrumental is always best, if the lyrics bring melancholy.

I like the Sam Smith version...a bit of Frank's version, but altered:

There's an online poll for the saddest Xmas music and, last I saw, Sam Smith's was in the lead.

Did you see that Bob Dylan is releasing a Sinatra album?

"'I could hear everything in his voice – death, God, the universe – everything.'

That was Bob Dylan's verdict on the great crooner Frank Sinatra. Now the 73-year-old American folk singer has announced that his new album, Shadows in the Night, will consist entirely of covers of Sinatra songs.

The album, his 36th studio record, will be 10 acoustic versions of songs from the Forties, recorded with minimal studio production, and will be released on February 2 2015."

I like your red-bubble blog photo, Twilight! What is the back-story?

Well, we've made it through the penultimate Uranus-Pluto square...only one more to go...whew! How was it for you Sonny?

mike (again) said...

P.S. - Sam Smith (May 19, 1992) is a UK sensation. He will do the lead soundtrack for the next James Bond. I like his melancholia! Here are two more, if you like him:

"In the Lonely Hour"

I'm Not the Only One"

Twilight said...

mike ~ Grover Washington is labelled as "Smooth Jazz", but he was one of the better Smoothies, I think - Kenny G is the true elevator music guy. ;-)
There's a nice guitar version by Joe Pass - I almost posted that one.

Sam Smith comes over as phoney to me, mike. Didin't like his take on the song at all.

Dylan and Sinatra - hmmm you don't often find those two mentioned in the same musical sentence! The album could be interesting, but probably hard on the ear for true Sinatra fans like me, even though I've always loved Bob Dylan's poetic talent.

The red circular object in the pic was in an art gallery - I think in Oklahoma City, a few years ago. Large piece of some kind of composite acetate or plastic-ish "stuff" I guess. I liked it - got anyjazz to snap me through it.

Penultimate U/P square - no news so far. Off to dentist for a twice postponed (due to dicky foot) clean-up shortly - hope no cavities are discovered!

Twilight said...

mike ~ Sam Smith could well appeal to his own age group, and more power to him on that front - but he's in his early 20s, what the heck can he really know about melancholy, love and loss of it etc? Sinatra knew it all, lived it all and it seeps through. There's a super-sad album of his called "A Man Alone" with words and music by Rod McKuen - post on McKuen here: I also like Rod McKuen a lot- I've just got the album out and begun playing it.

Sonny G said...

umm about the square you spoke of,Mike.. the two things I can think of that occurred, within the last 9 days was a lighbulb moment where I understood about one persons actions causing a ripple of events//or//things being exactly as they were meant to be for purposes no one could have expected. In the last 3 days I have set upon a plan to do a major clean out of things I have held on to that are wasting space in my garage and in my life. since I am , as you know, astro challenged , I hope you can add input to both these things. They came like out of the blue and were so clear and felt so true..

ps- My Aunt Peggy used to go to bar in Hoboken NJ with some gal pals after work and Frankie was singing there for tips~! omg can you imagine such a thing.. They all loved listening to him but thought he was wayyyyyyyyyyy too skinny lol.

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ That's a real OMG!!! Young Francis Albert was stick-like in those days, but filled out nicely later on - his voice improved even more later on too. I sometimes can hardly recognise his voice in one or two of his very earliest recordings.

mike~ The seige in Sydney, Australia seemed like the last throw of the U/P square - well we'll hope it was the last for a month or two.

(I got away without cavities (dentist) but with the advice that, ideally, I need three more crowns due to some large old fillings liable to give up the ghosts, no urgency but.....SHUCKS!

Sonny G said...

sorry about you needing the crowns Annie.. those darn things are expensive..

yes I agree an OMG for sure. these same pals went to broadway almost every saturday to Radio City music hall, for the shows.. it was cheap entertainment then..

mike (again) said...

Twilight, count your blessings! I have TMJ (aka TMD) and have no cartilage in my jaw joints and the medical doctors call this arthritic jaws. I've had arthritis for several decades with knee surgery almost two decades past. My teeth require re-alignment about every fifteen years and I'm overdue.

I'm pleased that in the past decade or so that dental fillings, mercury amalgam, have gained recognition as possibly toxic. Certainly makes sense to me, anyway. So, get those fillings out!

I think it's possible for a young person to feel the blues, sadness, melancholy. There must be astrological markers for such, other than a tragic life...LOL. There are young authors that can provide words that are beyond their years, too.

I have enjoyed the Lady Gaga & Tony Bennet duets...quite a merging of two talents that I would never have thought could blend in synergy.

Sonny - This Uranus-Pluto square (13* Aries-Capricorn) joined into a T-square with your Moon (15* Cancer???) and a couple of other points in your natal, if I remember correctly. Can't remember your chart. Doesn't mean that something HAS to happen, specially since the Uranus-Pluto square has been so on-going. The seeds of change we planted with the first several of their squares. This was the sixth of seven, so it is sorting-out time.

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Oh my! TMJ sounds a nasty and ongoing problem to put up with. My sympathies. Yes, I'll raid my piggy bank and get the work done during next year, probably 2 together then the third later.

You're right about some young people's ability to have the blues, and write about them. Maybe Sam Smith is one of those, but I still feel there's a lot of affectation going on in his singing. Could be wrong, of course.

I haven't heard Gaga and Bennett, it does sound an unlikely pair, but has a good voice - I've noticed that much - once you get past her outlandish costumes.

Twilight said...

mike (again)...That should read "she has a good voice - I've noticed that much....."