Wednesday, December 4, 2013
24 Days to Christmas: Day 4
Day 4: Favorite Carol or Song - Secular
It's "Christmas Shoes," duh.
Of course it's not "Christmas Shoes." The devil wrote that song.
If you don't believe me, watch this Patton Oswalt video about the song (as long as you're okay with blasphemy, swearing, jokes about insane Vietnam vets, and more blasphemy - don't say I didn't warn you. The video is also amazing.)
As we've so far seen in this countdown, I'm a big fan of "dark Christmas" (i.e. the existential angsty part of a holiday that began as the Solstice, with primitive people facing the darkness of winter and calling light forth - see, it's hopeful in the end). So of course my favorite secular holiday song is "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."
But hey, you might be thinking. That song's not sad. It's about having a merry Christmas.
Maybe you didn't realize that this is one of the saddest songs ever written. Over the years, some of the lyrics have been changed to make it more upbeat. The song was originally written for Judy Garland to sing in the movie Meet Me in St. Louis, which I have never seen because of my whole issue with classic movies. One of the key lines in the song reads, "through the years, we all will be together, if the fates allow/ until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow." But Frank Sinatra was making an album called A Jolly Christmas, and he had them change the line to "hang a shining star upon the highest bough" because the other was too much of a bummer. Since then, almost everyone (including Judy Garland) has used the alternative lyric.
And it was meant to be even sadder. The original original lyrics said: "Have yourself a merry little Christmas / It may be your last/ Next year we may all be living in the past." But that was too bleak for everyone, so it became, "Have yourself a merry little Christmas/let your heart be light/next year all our troubles will be out of sight."
In the end, I don't really think it's sad, as much as melancholy. It's about the hope of seeing loved ones more often in the coming year; apparently troops during World War II loved the song.
Everyone who makes a Christmas album records this tune (Fun fact: New Song, the band that sings "Christmas Shoes" has recorded it with the lyric, "If the Lord allows" instead of "If the fates allow"... and we come full circle). However, I love the Judy Garland version the best. Tell me you don't tear up when you watch this: