Significant Songs (52)

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

I am not the greatest fan of the Christmas season, to be honest. I prefer my birthday, which I imagine is only for me. One of the things I dislike most about a traditional Christmas is the music that normally accompanies it. Tired carols, a relic of the Victorian era, are accompanied by some of the worst cheesy songs ever written. A cynical ploy to cash in on the desire to have everything suitable for the festive season.

I have to admit to one exception. The song ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ has always appealed to me, at any time of the year. This was first made popular by Judy Garland, who sang it in the film ‘Meet Me In St Louis’, in 1944. It is a sad song, unlike almost any other seasonal tune, and that aspect has a real feel for this winter festivity, which can be very sad and lonely, for many people.

Of course the song became a standard, and countless versions were recorded, or performed live at concerts. We might all have our favourite versions. I know that for most of my life, my choice was the Frank Sinatra recording, from 1950. That all changed, and only today. On my way back from the supermarket, I heard a new version of this song, on the car radio. Although they did not announce the name of the singer, I could immediately identify the vocalist as Sam Smith, so distinctive is his voice. This young man from Hertfordshire, (He is only 22) has taken the British music scene by storm, since his arrival in the music charts in 2012. He has also made the traditionally difficult move across the Atlantic, and achieved huge popularity in the USA. His single releases have sold millions, and he has won numerous awards; both for record sales, and songwriting.

His recent recording of this song is currently only available as a download. But fortunately for us, it is also on You Tube. It gave me goose-bumps, and almost made me cry. Not an easy thing, when you consider that I am a 62 year-old cynical ex-Londoner, not prone to such emotions. If any song in this series can be called significant, then this is one for sure. Not only does it overturn the Sinatra version, no mean feat in itself, it literally brings a whole new interpretation to the song, something I had never considered possible. Not a thing is changed, no intonation altered, or lyric played around with.
It is just so much better. It is how it should always have been. It is perfection.

Merry Christmas to you all. Love from Norfolk. Pete.

13 thoughts on “Significant Songs (52)

  1. I agree about the song, it is inexplicably sad. But that sadness is – for me at least – inextricably linked with Garland’s performance (she could command such depth of emotion so easily, it’s just staggering). I consider her rendition impossible to surpass (although I love Frank’s as well). I listened to Sam Smith, but I cannot agree with you on this 🙂 I wish you Merry Christmas, with one of my favorite Christmas songs (from what is possibly my favorite Christmas movie):


    1. Thanks Nandia. It isn’t a problem not to agree, and I know exactly what you mean about Judy Garland. (And I also think to some extent, her daughter, Liza Minnelli)
      Have a wonderful Christmas, and enjoy your version. Very best wishes to you. Pete.


    2. Nandia, “The NIghtmare Before Christmas” is also one of my favorite films, and every single musical number is great. My favorite is “Sally’s Song,” which I find truly haunting. May your Christmas NOT be a nightmare!


  2. Pete, you soft old ex-London cynic! I think I might have already wished you, Julie and Ollie a merry Christmas already but no harm in sending you greetings again…….


  3. Probably the most popular modern Christmas songs here in the States are Elmo and Patsy’s “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” Jose Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad,” and Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors.” My favorite is a very sentimental song: “Shake Me I Rattle (Squeeze Me I Cry)” as sung by Marion Worth. My parents had the recording on vinyl, and I listened to it as a young child. It always brought tears to my eyes.



    I do enjoy some of the traditional oldies, perhaps because I’ve been careful to not to allow my ears to become saturated by them.

    Are you familiar with some of the French songs? “Petit Papa Noël” is a classic. As with “Shake Me I Rattle,” it’s a sentimental song, and it also relates to children and Christmas presents. The lyrics are included in the video.

    And then, of course, there is Schubert’s “Ave Maria.”



    1. Thanks David. I played the clips. The first one is very 1950s in feel, and is certainly sentimental. I didn’t know the French song, so it was nice to be introduced to it.
      My very best to you both from Norfolk. Pete.


    1. Thanks Gretchen. He really is the ‘big thing’ in male singers here at the moment. He has also had a number one in the USA.
      Hope you have a good Christmas and that it’s not too cold
      Looking forward to seeing more of your paintings, and hearing tales of New England life. Very best wishes, Pete.


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