The Persistent Actress and The Reluctant Songwriter

Metro-Goldwyn Mayer in the 1930s and 40s was known for its musicals.  In late November 1944 the Technicolor musical Meet Me In St Louis was released to the war-weary public.

The film starred Judy Garland as Esther Smith, the second oldest daughter of the Smith Family who would soon move to New York City.  The Smith Family lived in St. Louis in 1903 on the verge of the St Louis World’s Fair.  One of the songs performed by Miss Garland was Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas was a song by Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin. Judy Garland felt the song was too depressing and asked Martin to make it more gleeful.  Martin had written the song about the ongoing war and was reluctant to change his words, but eventually he did to make Miss Garland happy.

It was a hit with the American people.  However, 13 years later Frank Sinatra asked Martin to alter some additional wording of the song.  As fate would have, Old Blue Eyes got his way.

In 2001 Martin rewrote the song with religious overtones which he said was more like his original composition, but the powers that were wanted a secular song in the 1940s.  Have Yourself A Blessed Little Christmas became the new title which was first recorded by Del Decker with Hugh Martin on the piano.

Hugh Martin passed to his rest on March 11, 2011. This will be the first Christmas in 97 years at which he will not be present on this planet traversing the cosmos.

One can only hope that his music will continue to play and be made in the cosmic ocean.  For it is there that the cosmic symphony waits for earth’s musicians with their talents to join with the morning stars to sing a new Christmas song daily. For among the stars it is always Christmas.


G. D. Williams       © 2011

Judy Garland: Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Hugh Martin

Hugh Martin & Del Decker: Have Yourself A Blessed Little Christmas

Hugh Martin Official Site