Monday, December 24, 2012

Lost Introductions to Christmas Songs

Christmas Song Intros

[Thank you for reading my essays. I wish you all happy holidays!]

Most songs written in the 1930s and 1940s began with an introduction. It was a way to lead you into the song or set up the context. Over the years most of these introductions have fallen away. They are rarely recorded. I especially appreciate some of the introductions to famous Christmas songs. Here are a few favorites:

This intro to “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” was sung by Judy Garland in the movie MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS:

Christmas Future is far away
Christmas past is past
Christmas Present is here today
Bringing joy that will last.
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas . . . [i]

This intro to “Silver Bells” was featured in the LEMON DROP KID. It was sung by Bob Hope, rather Bing Crosby.

Christmas makes you feel emotional.
It may bring parties or thoughts devotional.
Whatever happens or what may be.
Here is what Christmas-time means to me:
City Sidewalks, Busy Sidewalks . . .

This is the intro to “Winter Wonderland”. My favorite line of the song is: “to face unafraid the plans that we made.”

Over the ground lies a mantle of white,
A heaven of diamonds shine down through the night,
Two hearts are thrillin’ in spite of the chill in the weather.
Sleigh bells ring are you listening . . .

The intro to “I’ll be Home for Christmas” was written during World War II. It is supposedly sung by a soldier away from his home at Christmas. I always imagine it being sung by a Marine on an island in the South Pacific. It holds the idea of not only missing this Christmas, but the possibility of missing every Christmas. It is the saddest Christmas song. I prefer the Leon Redbone rendition. He changes the time signature from the standard 4/4 to a waltz tempo 3/4. The feeling is I’ll be home unless I get tied up at a party or something else fun along the way.

I’m dreaming tonight of a place I love,
Even more than I usually do.
And although I know it’s a long road back,
I promise you
I’ll be home for Christmas

My favorite lost introduction is for “White Christmas”. Irving Berlin wrote it when he was in California writing music for HOLIDAY INN:

The sun is shining
The grass is green
The orange and palm trees sway.
I've never seen such a day
In Beverly Hills LA.
But it's December the 24th
And I am longing to be up North. So,
I’m dreaming of a White Christmas . . .

I wish you all a Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year.

[i]               There is wonderful background on this song on Wikipedia:
My favorite bit is the rejected lyrics: "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."

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