Friday, December 19, 2014

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Judy Garland, and Birmingham

1944 theatrical poster of Meet Me In St. Louis
As you read the title of this blog post, you may have exclaimed, “What does Birmingham have to do with the song, 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' and Judy Garland?” This song made its debut in the 1944 classic musical, Meet Me in St. Louis, which starred Judy Garland and contained several songs written by Birmingham native, Hugh Martin. The song, "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas", went on to become a hit and a Christmas favorite. What you might not know is that the lyrics were changed as Judy Garland deemed them too sad.


The original lyrics 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, happen golden days of yore, 
Faithful friends who were dear to us, will be near to us no more." 

After a lot of convincing and realizing it was probably the only way his song would remain in the film, Hugh Martin changed the lyrics to what we all know and love. The changed lyrics were: 

"Have yourself a merry little Christmas, 
Let your heart be light 
From now on, 
Our troubles will be out of sight, 
Have yourself a merry little Christmas, 
Make the Yule-Tide gay, 
From now on, 
Our troubles will be miles away." 

Hugh Martin expands upon this story in his memoir, Hugh Martin: the Boy Next Door. Watch Judy Garland's performance of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" from Meet Me in St. Louis.
If you liked this Christmas story and its little known connection to Alabama, you have to check out Christmas Tales of Alabama by Kelly Kazek. This book tells of Helen Keller’s first Christmas, why Truman Capote wrote A Christmas Memory, history of white Christmases in Alabama, and many more delightful stories.

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