Guest Author - Amber Grey
There are many classic holiday film moments we can recall during this time of the season that warm our hearts and make us feel like children again. Who can forget the part when George Bailey runs victoriously through Bedford Falls in "It's A Wonderful Life" (1946)Or when Susan Walker tugs on the beard of Kris Kringle in "Miracle On 34th Street" (1947)? Or when Esther Smith sings "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" to her 7-year old sister 'Tootie'?
"Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas", written by Ralph Blane and Harry Martin, has come a long way from being featured in "Meet Me In St. Louis" (1944) to becoming a Christmas standard.
During the production of the film that Garland and director Vincente Minelli objected to the original first verse of the song which was "Have yourself a merry little Christmas, it may be your last. Next Year we may all be living in the past. . .". Garland and Minelli agreed that the verse was too depressing to have her character "Esther" sing it to her littler sister 'Tootie' (O'Brien).
According to the book "Judy Garland" by John Fricke, Harry Martin recalled Garland telling him, "They'll think I'm a monster, singing that to that little girl." At first Martin refused to change but it was Tom Drake, who portrayed "John Truett" in the film, who convinced him to change it. Another brief change to the lyric that we now know as "...But at least we all will be together, if the Fates allow", originally contained the phrase "...If The Lord allows..." but it was modified to to let the song speak to all faiths and beliefs of the season.
No one had any idea that Garland's version would become not only a hit song when the film was released, but over the years grew into a classic Christmas song and a treasured fan favorite among Garland's fans.
In the past, many legendary performers such as Frank Sinatra, Bette Midler and Tony Bennett have recorded their renditions of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." In the most recent years, contemporary musicians and performers such as Clay Aiken, Christina Aguilera and Whitney Houston have also recorded their versions of the song but none of these singers, not even good ol Blue Eyes Sinatra can replace Garland's original version of this heartwarming song. It could be the chilly middle of winter or the heat of Jul when you listen to Judy Garland's voice, and the spirit of Christmas fills your heart.