Sunday, December 11, 2011

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" was a song introduced by Judy Garland in the 1944 MGM musical Meet Me in St. Louis. Frank Sinatra later recorded a version with modified lyrics (see below), which has become more common than the original. I had not known the history of  Hugh Martin's somewhat "troubled" lyrics until doing a little research (credit: Wikipedia).

History of SONG: When presented with the original draft lyric, Garland, her co-star Tom Drake and director Vincente Minnelli criticized the song as depressing. Do you agree?

I had to remind myself: The context was World War II, so that explains the poignant, even somber, mood--also apparent in the film. But then, see how the lyrics were changed to fit a new time, a new mood.

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

Though he initially resisted, songwriter Hugh Martin made several changes to make the song more upbeat. For example, the lines "It may be your last / Next year we may all be living in the past" became "Let your heart be light / Next year all our troubles will be out of sight". Garland's version of the song, which was also released as a single by Decca Records, became popular among United States troops serving in World War II.  

Jackie Gleason recorded the song for his 1956 album Merry Christmas. In 1957, Frank Sinatra asked Martin to revise the line "Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow". He told Martin, "The name of my album is  
A Jolly Christmas. Do you think you could jolly up that line for me?" Martin's new line, "Hang a shining star upon the highest bough," has since become more widely recognized and sung than the original phrase.

Still Life Gallery owner Rebecca Weber.
Cut to Present, Ellicott City Historic District.  So, this is the 2011 decorative landscape of historic and commercial Main Street, with one entry into a shop, Still Life Gallery, (see photo) then back to the walk.

What Happened?  I parked in the lot near Ellicott Mills Road, then walked down, past the Wine Bin, to the Church Road intersection, and down to the National Historic Landmark Ellicott City Railroad Station.

The early winter daylight, although intense, was quickly diminishing and long shadows began to take over..I hurried, taking photo after photo on the digital camera.  Note: The photos of shops on Main Street have not been straightened or adjusted, so you can see the pace of the walk and the fidgety camera work. Reality!
Oh, and although I tried, they are out of order--and a couple I loved, such as the train.whirl.a.gig are repeated--so this means you HAVE to visit Main Street yourself to participate in the joy and fun of the holiday.  Take the walk!  Have fun!

Now, Denee Barr, artist, and our own Columbia--and beyond--song stylist, jazz vocalist sings Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas to accompany the brief walking tour of Ellicott City Historic District with its colorful December storefronts...Sing it, Denee!

Ellicott City Railroad Station, an NHL.

Love & Glitter, with historic stonework.

$5 palm reading.

Oriental Art Collection.

Country Crafters.

HO HO HO banner!

Train: Forget-Me-Not Factory.

Original Souls.

Detail, train. Forget-Me-Not-Factory.

Tersiguels. Great Country French restaurant!

The Wine Bin.

Friday Traffic!

Precious Gifts.

Historic Fire Station Museum. Church Road intersection.
Oriental Rugs. Most unusual display.

Still Life Gallery window.

Johnny's Bistro on Main.

Neon sign at Precious Gifts, formerly a theater.

Sweet Elizabeth Jane. Cool SNOWMAN!

Fabulous (as always) RETROPOLITAN window.

Customer entering Sweet Elizabeth Jane.
OBLADI sign! Great lyric; beautiful B & B.

Last one on Main Street
         Get into car; drive up Church Road...but I always return to Main Street!

Back home again. Whew! Cats await me.

Blog content, photos: Kay Weeks
Song stylist: Denee Barr

With gratitude to all the businesses on Main Street (and there are many others just off the Street) for their individual and cumulative spirit, all year 'round!

Be sure to visit
for comprehensive information on Ellicott City and beyond! 



Anonymous said...

Lovely! Denee had fun singing that song.



Anonymous said...

Good one!! xx

Leslie Lewart
Ellicott City, MD

Denee Barr Art News and More said...

Happy Holidays!

Denee Barr Art News and More said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...


Cindi K. Ryland
Ellicott City, MD

Anonymous said...

thanks for the holiday/birthday card/wishes!!!

Peggy Handler,
San Francisco

Anonymous said...

enjoyed your blog complete with that wonderful voice of your friend belting out the carol around which you did your research. an example of how history influences art, and how art changes when/as the times do.

Lora Robertson

Anonymous said...


Country Crafters
Ellicott City

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your holiday walk down Main Sreet!

Washington, DC