Stories about Our Christmas Songs

By | Dec 15, 2014

When should Christmas music be started to played for the Holidays? One thought is after Halloween, another is as soon as the weather starts turning colder (living in Maryland this would be around Mid-October) but for most that time starts just after Thanksgiving.

We all know and love the following songs, but did you know that they also have interesting stories. Here are brief stories about six of our Christmas favorites. Oh, and for me I start playing them anytime after the first of October, sometimes even earlier.

White Christmas
Everyone knows that the song was introduced in the movie Holiday Inn, but many don’t know that it was a song about being stuck in sunny and warm LA and dreaming of a White Christmas. The original first verse is:

The sun is shining
The grass is green
The orange and palm trees sway.
I’ve never seen such a day
In Beverly Hills LA.
But it’s December the 24th
And I am longing to be up North…

This part is rarely performed with the song (The Carpenters version does) and was never recorded by Bing Crosby.

Have Yourself A Very Merry Christmas
This Judy Garland song was written for and first introduced in the movie Meet me In St. Louis. The original intent for the song was to say that by next year things would be brighter. The original lines were;

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
May your heart be light
In a year our troubles will be out of sight
From now on

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the yuletide gay
In a year our troubles will be miles away

At the request of Judy Garland it was changed to:

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.

Then in 1957 when Frank Sinatra was recording his Christmas Album A Jolly Christmas he requested another change to the lyrics. Later in the song there was the line;

If the Fates allow
Until then, we’ll just have to muddle through somehow
And have ourselves a merry little Christmas now.

Sinatra wanted a more jolly song and asked for this to be changed. It was to:

If the Fates allow,
Hang a shining star
On the highest bough,
And have yourself
A merry little Christmas now.

This sure makes for it to be a merrier, Merry Christmas song.

I’ll Be Home for Christmas
The song was written in 1943 and recorded in that same year by Bing Crosby. Placing it in that time period it’s obvious that the song was about a soldier at war and his Christmas wish. If it wasn’t for White Christmas this would probably be considered His Christmas song. (Although his version of Silent Night sold more copies) The song remained on the charts for 7 weeks and well pass Christmas.

Silver Bells
The song was written by the prolific movie composers Jay Livingston and Ray Evans for the movie The Lemon Drop Kid, staring Bob Hope. It was originally going to be Tinkle Bells, until Livingston’s wife told him that to millions of american women the word tinkle meant something else and not something that would generally go over good in a Christmas song. The word tinkle was replaced with silver. Now the next time you hear the song replace the word ‘silver’ with ‘tinkle’ and see if it doesn’t have a slightly different song.

Frosty the Snowman
Frosty the Snowman was written with one thought in mind. Just before it was written Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer had be a huge commercial hit and the team of Jack Nelson and Steve Rollins wanted to write the next ‘Christmas Classic’. By the end of the winter they had put together two holiday songs to pitch to Gene Autry. Autry was sold and recorded Frosty for the next Christmas season.

And, the other Holiday song they pitched. It wasn’t a Christmas song, but the Easter song Here Comes Peter Cotton-tail.

A Christmas Song
In the hot heat in the summer of 1945, Mel Torme visited his friend Bob Wells. Earlier in the day Wells had written phases in a notebook in an effort to stay warm. A couple of these were; “Chestnuts roasting … Jack Frost nipping … Yuletide carols … Folks dressed up like Eskimos.”

Torme also in an effort to try to cool off, thought that maybe writing a winter song would help. They took these phrases and in 40 minutes much of the music and some of the lyrics of one of the most recorded Christmas song was completed.


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