Yesterday as we rode in our car coming home from a mad dash to the mall for gifts… a version of this song came on the radio. After listening to it again for the uncountable time, I asked my wife this rhetorical question.
“If you were asked your all-time favorite Christmas Song do you think you could answer?”
She thought and then softly said, “No…there are too many I love.”
I said, “This one would be mine”.
This is may not be my favorite version. I’m not sure I could decide that. It is lovelier to me to hear the interpretations. And isn’t that the essence of the most lasting art?
Whoopi Goldberg once said of Judy Garland, “When she sang, God spoke”. I agree with that. And God speaks when Louis Armstrong sings too. And I’d stuff a pocketful of quarters into God’s Own Jukebox if I could hear this song done by ANY artist I could think of whether they actually recorded it or not. Who would they be? The obvious ones leap up; Frank Sinatra, James Taylor, Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis. But what about Johnny Cash? Tom Waits? Roseanne Cash for that matter? ‘Twisted Sister’ does one. I haven’t heard it but simply knowing they have will make me give it a try. I bet Judy would have giggled to see that.
The song is bittersweet both in melody and in lyrics. It entreats us all to “make the yuletide gay” but quickly enjoins that “next year all our troubles will be miles away”. Ahhhh! So we have to wait for that carefree sense we all knew as children… but we can HOPE.
“Someday soon we will all will all be together… if the fates allow”…
The authors (Hugh Martin and Ralph Blaine) wrote the song during World War II for the movie, “Meet Me in St. Louis”. There was a broad American character and sensibility of those times that could be boiled down to a kind of ‘sentimentality (and loyalty) lashed to survival’. Those values don’t die. Despite the rampant commercialization of Christmas in these times a power transcends… even if until then we will have to ‘muddle through somehow’.
So.. Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas… now.