Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Christmas Songs part 1: Have Yourself a Merry....

I have decided that for the time between now and Christmas I would dedicate this blog to discussing some of my favorite Christmas recordings, and why I like them so much. If I had thought of this sooner, I could have turned it into a kind of advent calendar. Anyway, on to my first choice:

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas-Judy Garland/Frank Sinatra/The Pretenders

This song is one of my favorites to sing to over the holidays, and all of these recordings just reek of awesomeness, in my humble opinion.

Judy Garland is responsible for first giving voice to this song, having performed it in the film musical "Meet Me in St. Louis." Word is she was a little uncomfortable with some of the lyrics, and changed some of them around. One she didn't change was the line "Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow." When Frank Sinatra recorded his version a few years later, he changed the line to "Hang a shining star upon the highest bow." I personally have no probllem with either version, though I have to admit I will more often sing the latter than the former.

As much as I like the Garland version, however, it's the Pretenders' cover that leaves me at the point of tears. Chrissy Hynde puts so much longing and sadness in her voice as she sings, it's almost unbearable. And yet, it absolutely sets the mood of the song, which is as much melancholy as hope. As a younger man, not having found the woman of my dreams, I would often listen to this song at Christmas and daydream of She Who Would Complete Me. Unfortunately, I went through several red herrings before I found her, but that's the way it goes.

Recommendation: Garland for the Christmas party, Pretenders for drinking by the fire after the party, Frank for staring at the tree anytime.

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