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Do You Know the Original Lyrics of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”?

Do You Know the Original Lyrics of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”?

Judy Garland objected to these lyrics, stating, “Margaret will cry, and they’ll think I’m a monster.”

Merry Christmas Legal Insurrection Readers!

During my childhood, my maternal grandmother heavily influenced my current love for American Musicals. When my family would visit my grandparents in central Maine, I would would watch her many VHS tapes of Shirley Temple, Rogers & Hammerstein, and Judy Garland musicals.

On this Christmas Day, I would like to share with you one of my favorite movies of all time: Meet Me In St. Louis, starring Judy Garland.

The film was released on November 22, 1944, during World War II. The Director, Vincent Minelli (who proposed to Judy Garland during the filming of Meet Me In St. Louis), recognizing the turmoil of the war on the American psyche and desired to reflect on a happier time: the turn of the 20th century, leading up to the 1904 World’s Fair.

Presented as four seasonal vignettes, the film is abundant with rich colors, poignant songs, and nostalgic charm, just what America needed. During the “Winter” story, Americans heard, for the first, Have Yourself A Very Merry Christmas.

Written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, the Christmas song we know now originally had very different lyrics. At this point in the movie, the Smith family is celebrating their last Christmas in their beloved St. Louis, as Mr. Smith has accepted a new position in New York City. Esther Smith (Judy Garland) sings to her youngest sibling, “Tootie” (Margaret O’Brien), to try to comfort her during this transition.

The original lyrics were as follows:

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 may 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 Lord allows.

From now on, we’ll have to muddle through somehow.

So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

Judy Garland objected to these lyrics, stating, “Margaret will cry, and they’ll think I’m a monster.” Martin went back to the studio and rewrote the lyrics.

I, for one, am glad that Judy Garland had the wisdom to object to the original lyrics. In doing so, she helped create one of the most popular Christmas songs of all time.

Watch and enjoy the one and only Judy Garland sing what is still, in my opinion, the best version of this now classic Christmas song:


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That is shocking those were the original lyrics, but maybe if it was written that way now it might be fitting

The Friendly Grizzly | December 25, 2020 at 11:23 am

Judy Garland had a sense of humor as well. She did not like Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. (Nor do I!)

This is her take on it.

The original lyrics were somewhat prescient, don’t you think?

Here’s a forgotten Christmas Classic from Pogo.

“Boston Charlie”

Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash., an’ Kalamazoo!
Nora’s freezin’ on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!

Don’t we know archaic barrel
Lullaby Lilla Boy, Louisville Lou?
Trolley Molly don’t love Harold,
Boola boola Pensacoola hullabaloo!

Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Polly wolly cracker ‘n’ too-da-loo!
Donkey Bonny brays a carol,
Antelope Cantaloupe, ‘lope with you!

Hunky Dory’s pop is lolly,
Gaggin’ on the wagon, Willy, folly go through!
Chollie’s collie barks at Barrow,
Harum scarum five alarm bung-a-loo!

Dunk us all in bowls of barley,
Hinky dinky dink an’ polly voo!
Chilly Filly’s name is Chollie,
Chollie Filly’s jolly chilly view halloo!

Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Double-bubble, toyland trouble! Woof, woof, woof!
Tizzy seas on melon collie!
Dibble-dabble, scribble-scrabble! Goof, goof, goof!

Walt Kelly. Pogo

TCM interviewed (I think) Martin for one of its filler pieces, and he shared this story. I agree that Judy did the song better than anybody else. But then, one could justifiably apply that claim to just about anything she ever sung.

You hardly ever hear the Judy Garland lyrics any more. When Frank Sinatra recorded the song in 1957 he objected to the ‘Have to muddle through somehow’ line as too gloomy for his album’s theme and begat the version that ‘hangs a shining star on the highest bough’.

Check out this more recent version, care of Norah Jones:

Are you a fan of Kathryn Grayson?

Dorothy: I miss Kansas
Toto: I miss the rains down in Africa

you related to the baldacci family (restaurant years ago and lawyers now) up here in bangor area?

The original lyrics were awful, the lyrics as sung were maudlin enough!

Here’s another Judy Garland fact. The producers thought “The Wizard of Oz” was too long, and wanted something cut – the song “Over the Rainbow”! Proof positive that sometimes the boss doesn’t know what’s best!

Judy had good instincts. Singing those original lyrics in the presence of kiddies would be child abuse. Why, that blood-curdling line alone about “next year we’ll be living in New York” would have them under their beds and screaming.